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 |

Scalia, Thomas, WingNutDaily: Is There a Difference?

There’s not much difference between Antonin Scalia/Clarence Thomas and WingNutDaily as concerns supporting partisan divisiveness and whackjobbery. You can see that in the fake controversy and conspiracy theories surrounding Barack Obama’s US citizenship, to which Thomas and Scalia are giving tacit credit.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Last week I wrote about how the right wing pretend news magazine WorldNetDaily was using the phony issue of Barack Obama’s citizenship to bilk its readers. First, they pretend there’s a big issue, then the issue goes to Conference at the SCOTUS, then they ratchet up the need for all their oh-so-concerned readers to send notes to the SCOTUS members, while WingNutDaily makes a profit. The Donofrio case, which had been brought to conference by Clarence Thomas, was turned down for review without comment yesterday. In the meantime, Antonin Scalia has moved another case, Cort Wrotnowski v. Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut secretary of state, to conference, which, according to Donofrio himself, makes the exact same argument as the Donofrio case, which just got turned down.

Be that as it may, the interesting thing here is not the old news that WingNutDaily is still milking this issue in order to bilk its readers. We know already that WingNutDaily will push any conspiracy theory to serve their need for making money. What we didn’t know is that Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia appear to be in on the act. At the very least, since they brought these bogus cases to conference, it is hard to tell the difference between them and the most extremist and whacked out of the right wing. There’s a little of that frustration peeking out in the reporting by Tampabayonline, but mostly there’s wonderment at the shear whackjobbery of the people who so fervently believe in the conspiracy theories about Obama’s citizenship. Read some of this:

The slim chance the Supreme Court might act on this issue was enough reason for Bredow, 49, an affable Internet publisher, to drive 10 hours from Bethlehem, Ga.

He had received hundreds of thousands of hits and messages of encouragement while questioning Obama’s citizenship on his Web page,, and in a video he posted on YouTube.

“People started pounding on me, saying, –What are you going to do?’ ” Bredow said. “And I said, –Well, okay, why don’t we do a march on the 5th up in Washington?’ And so here we are.”

All 19 of them.

His fellow skeptics included a mom and her teen daughter from Williamsburg, Va., a retired Marine from Virginia, a pilot from South Florida, and Pam, a young black woman from Texas who said she never bought the story that Obama was from Hawaii. “I have never heard him say –Aloha,’ ” she said.

This just goes over the top. Someone born in Hawaii evidently has to prove that fact by saying “Aloha” once in a while? These folks are completely whack. I mean, seriously, look at the reaction from a guy named Bredow, who had traveled from Alabama to the Supreme Court to march with 18 friends before the Donofrio conference the other day. Even though Donofrio was denied without comment, this guy still has hope:

The word came down midmorning Monday: denied. No explanation, no comments.

Bredow got the news back in Bethlehem. He spent a couple of hours reading the court’s rules, in search of an explanation.

“Donofrio wasn’t what you would call a constitutional lawyer. He might have just goofed something up on the application,” Bredow suggested.

Members of Congress still could call for hearings, he said. And he has heard about some anonymous fraternity brothers in Hawaii on the hunt for Obama’s birth records.

“According to these guys – I guess they have to protect themselves legally – but according to these guys, they went to all nine hospitals in Honolulu, and they have not found Obama’s name,” he said. “So there’s still other little things floating around there.”

He stakes his hope on the work of some anonymous frat boys. Of course, he stakes that hope on Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the two most vocal conservative Justices in a long, long time. Let’s get serious here. The Supreme Court rarely overturns the elected decisions of the people. This election this year was pretty decisive. Of course, the fact of Barack Obama’s mother being a natural born citizen makes him one, too, but besides that, there are seven people on the Supreme Court who do not look at the world through such partisan eyes that they’ll credit such whackjobbery. Only Scalia and Thomas are willing to give this whackjobbery legs.

Which brings us to the question in the title of this post: what’s the difference between WorldNetDaily and the Scalia/Thomas wing of the SCOTUS? Only profit motive. Both WingNutDaily and Scalia/Thomas seek to roil up the whack jobs and undermine our duly elected President. WingNutDaily and Scalia/Thomas seek to ratchet up partisan divisiveness. Sure, we know the role of SCOTUS does not include partisanship, but Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas seem bent on proving us wrong on that score.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |

According to Poll, Time for Evangelicals to Ask WWJD Re Torture

Pew has stunning news out from a recent poll, that the correlation between allowing torture and church attendance is pretty strong. And what kind of frequent churchgoer prefers torture most? Evangelicals. Hold it a moment, isn’t George Bush an Evangelical? Have they even heard of Jesus the torture victim in his church?

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

This is a stunning survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and analyzed by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Here’s the graphs, and here’s the survey. The upshot is reported by CNN:

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new analysis.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week – 54 percent – said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified – more than 6 in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only 4 in 10 of them did.

I would like to quote my wife on the subject.

Wow. Just wow. The people who would likely claim that they are most in tune with the teachings and doctrines of a man who was, well, tortured to death, are most likely to support torture and think it is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Unbelievable.

Man, this is disturbing. Sure, the survey is likely not merely measuring frequency of religious worship or the magnitude of one’s fundamentalism, but also how partisan one is a Republican. Yup, the correlation between one’s Republican partisanship and loving torture is probably even stronger than the one between religious practice and loving torture. What this tells me is that they’re teaching Republican values in these churches far more than they are teaching Jesus. How horrid such news is. How predictable, too.

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

An American Outrage: Bernie, AIG, and Us

Why are we outraged at AIG and not the state of homelessness, of children in poverty, of Bush-backed torture, of innocents slaughtered in Iraq, of worldwide hunger, of corporations ignoring our overheating planet. Is money truly the root of all the outrage?

Commentary By: Walter Brasch

by Rosemary and Walter Brasch

There have now been more than 4,000 deaths and 30,000 casualties of American military in the war in Iraq. More than 100,000 Iraqis and others, most of them civilian, have also been killed in what is now known to be an unnecessary war. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

We have recently learned that former President Bush and former Vice-President Cheney had authorized the use of torture. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

The Supreme Court has ruled there have been significant and substantial constitutional violations during the Bush–Cheney era. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

More than 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance. Millions don’t get the health care they need or are turned away because they can’t pay. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

The unemployment rate has climbed past 8 percent. More than 12 million Americans are unemployed and actively looking for work. About three million have been unemployed more than half a year. About 2.6 millions jobs were lost just in the past four months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Companies have eliminated jobs, forcing the remaining employees to work beyond their capacity. These companies have cut wages and benefits; they have shipped jobs overseas. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

About 38 million Americans are living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

About 3.5 million people were homeless last year. More than one million of the homeless are children, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Over a half-million are veterans. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

Almost every reputable scientist has told us that the world’s environment is in jeopardy from man-made destruction. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

We are killing off our animals by a combination of neglect and planned destruction of their lives and habitat. About 1,600 animal species are critically endangered, according to the World Conservation Union; about 25 become extinct every year. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

But, we are outraged about one thing. Our money.

We are outraged that Wall Street financiers, corporate bankers, and real estate brokers have seemingly conspired for personal greed, leading to a plunge in the value of our own stocks and investments, forcing the nation into the worst economic crisis in more than seven decades.

We, as a nation, are outraged that Bernard Madoff scammed individuals and charitable foundations for billions.

We, as a nation, are outraged that executives at failed insurance giant AIG are receiving millions in bonuses paid for by taxpayer funds. In Congress, conservatives and liberals, many of whom were part of the problem of the subprime mortgage crisis, have united for the first time in years and have expressed their outrage. The President, who inherited this mess, is outraged. The media who had failed to adequately report this mess are outraged. Almost every American is outraged.

And why are we outraged? Because it’s money.

As homeless children sleep beneath bridges, as millions desperate for work are told to go home and collect a pittance in unemployment, as inn

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by Walter Brasch |

Honoring Jesus in Florida, the Wing Nut Way

Jesus joins the manatees and turtles in Florida, which is not the same as “sleeping with the fishes.” Legislators there solved (= ignored) every problem in the state in order to add Jesus to the star studded line-up of causes one can honor on one’s license plate. Dashboard Jesuses are striking in protest.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The Florida legislature has made it possible for you to honor Jesus by choosing a license plate with His image on it. This landmark legislation was snuck onto another measure the other day by a bipartisan couple of lawmakers. The wing nuts will be pleased. From the St. Petersburg Times:

If you want Jesus on your license plate, the Florida Senate is looking out for you.

Because why worry about a budget impasse or property insurance when you can spend more than an hour talking about Jesus, the devil and license plates?

Religious specialty plates offered by Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, and Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, made it onto a bill Friday even though many members had not seen images of those plates and none was produced for the debate.

Siplin didn’t mince words when asked what his “Trinity” plate looks like, saying, “It has a picture of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ.”

OK, I’m not going to riff about the seperation of church and state. I’m not going to riff about how the legislature is irresponsible to even discuss this when there are a whole lot of other problems in Florida that need to be dealt with. no, I think this is completely appropriate legislation, as it fits the Florida image as America’s tackiest state. OK, Jesus might not be all that pleased to know he’s been relagated to the exhaust end of the car. Heck, wasn’t he on dashboards just a few years ago? Well, he’s honored with a license plate now, and license plates in Florida are nothing if not the great leveler. One can honor almost anything in Florida by choosing a special license plate. Jesus is but one amongst a plethora of honorees, including manatees, turtles and the Space Shuttle.

Monday, April 27th, 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 |

The Americans Are Revolting

For eight years, the right-wing of America could have protested the destruction of the Constitution. It didn’t. Now it’s protesting a tax program that not only will bring this nation out of a deficit and recession created by the Bush–Cheney Administration but which would benefit 95 percent of all Americans.

Commentary By: Walter Brasch

The Americans are revolting!

All across the country–from Boston to Atlanta to San Antonio–thousands of Americans, inspired by Fox News and radio conservative talk show hosts, took to the streets to protest.

They protested a fascist government that has restricted their freedom of speech and freedom of religion, protected by the First Amendment. They protested thousands of instances where the government infringed upon their rights of privacy, protected by the Fourth Amendment. They called out the government for violations of the rights of due process, protected by the fifth and sixth amendments. They protested the use of about $1 trillion to fight an unnecessary war in Iraq. They protested the apparently unregulated policies of the banks, money lenders, and Wall Street financiers who brought this nation into the current recession that has led to an 8.5 percent unemployment rate and several hundred thousand to lose their homes to foreclosure actions. They protested the fact that about 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance, that as many as five million Americans are homeless, about a fourth of them veterans. They protested the use of torture, of the destruction of the environment, of the awarding of no-bid sweetheart deals worth hundreds of million dollars to companies that do business with the President and Vice-President.

Actually, they didn’t do any of that. Not now and certainly not during the Bush–Cheney years.

What they protested was taxes. For these protestors, April 15, the deadline for paying taxes, was Tea Day.

They cried out against taxation without representation, conveniently forgetting that the United States, because of its revolt against the monarchy more than two centuries ago, has one of the most representative democracies in history. Without understanding either history or government, the protestors wore tea bags on their baseball caps, wore revolutionary era costumes, threw tea bags onto the ground and into the rivers, and even littered the grounds outside the White House with tea bags. Since every protest has to have signs, these protestors also carried signs–”Give me liberty, not debt,” “No more spending,” and “Taxation is Piracy.” Ironically, it was tax-provided rescue equipment that volunteers used to rescue one protestor after she fell into the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.

Their “official” website attacked the government for “spending trillions of borrowed dollars, leaving a debt our great-grandchildren will be paying,” conveniently forgetting that it was the Bush–Cheney Administration that left the nation with the largest deficit in history. Underlying the protest was their hatred of the policies of Barack Obama, whom they called a fascist, a socialist, and a Communist, unable to understand or differentiate among terms they loosely threw out. President Obama, although in office less than three months, is riding high with a 67 percent popularity rating. But these souls, very few of whom voted for him in November, have now not only protested policies that are bringing the nation out of a financial abyss, but are often calling for his impeachment, something they never called for during the previous eight years.

So, they complained about fascist–or socialist–or communistic–policies, and failed to understand that it’s only the wealthiest 5 percent whose taxes go back to the rate it was when George Bush took office and lowered taxes for the wealthy.

But, these protesting masses aren’t the rich, and they aren’t being forced to give up more of their income. In fact, the Obama tax cuts benefit about 95 percent of all Americans.

The idea of a Tea Party was probably that of CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who ranted against any government assistance for persons who lost their homes through foreclosure. Pushing the tea bagging of America were Fox mouths Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, and dozens of other conservative talking mouths who are among the top 5 percent, and whose seven-figure incomes would be reduced under the Obama plan to restore fiscal sanity to America.

Well, I guess it’s true. Americans really are revolting.

[Walter M. Brasch is a university professor of journalism, social issues columnist, and the author of 17 books. His current book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available from,, and other stores. You may contact him through his website,]

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 by Walter Brasch |

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’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 |

Why the Philadelphia Inquirer is in Bankruptcy

They hired Rick Santorum to write a column. $1,750 per column is chicken feed, but Santorum’s was a quota hire. They needed a Republican on the opinion pages, no matter the quality. Santorum has since turned in bad writing based in faulty logic and data in severe need of a fact check. Philadelphia Inquirer = FAIL.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It is all about poor judgement. A couple of years ago Brian Tierney, a PR man clearly over his head running Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., the Inquirer’s parent, led a consortium that took control of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. Tierney worked hard to turn the corporation behind, including renegotiating union contracts and enlivening the advertising base of both papers. But those of us in the know were ready for Brian Tierney, long a Republican operative, to put his right wing stamp on the papers, and he did so by hiring Rick Santorum, failed former Senator from Pennsylvania. That’s just a bad business decision.

Hiring Santorum to write a column that is never anything more than a meandering screed about how Democrats are flirting with the anti-Christ, attacking Santorum’s blessed traditional values, playing right into the hands of “Islamofascists, etc., is simply a poor choice. Santorum is not a good writer and his ideas are extremist and his use of logic is ill, and not a good “ill,” either. Santorum is basically of the Republican school of “if they disagree with me, then they are the enemy,” a school that is about as anti-American as it gets. But the Phildelphia Inquirer puts him on its editorial pages every two weeks, without editing or fact-checking, once every two weeks.

Friday in Clout we found out what the Philadelphia Inquirer pays Rick Santorum:

Former U. S. Sen. Rick Santorum is collecting $1,750 a shot for the columns that appear every other week in the Inquirer, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The checks are sent to a post office box in Great Falls, Va. – close to a Starbucks, we figure.

OK, it’s only $3,500 a month, but I could probably find 1,000 people who would write a better column than that of Rick Santorum who would cost less and inform the readers more. This is simply a bad business decision. They hired a poor writer with substandard thinking skills who is also a failed extremist right wing politician to write a column solely so the Inquirer had a voice fromt he right wing on its pages. The Bush Administration showed incompetence for eight years, and I suppose Brian Tierney, the CEO of Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc., is just continuing the tradition.

When it comes to it, I say no bailout for any newspaper, not after this kind of demonstration of gross incompetence.

Monday, April 20th, 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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