Republicans vs reality

The Todd Akin fiasco is just another example of how many Republicans, and far right conservatives in general, seem to have a problem with science, facts, math and reality in general. This is what happens when your ideology becomes so entrenched that you start believing your own bullshit. You get elected officials saying that raped women can’t get pregnant, that Obama’s birth certificate is forged or that humans once lived side by side with dinosaurs.

As usual, Bill Maher has no trouble calling out this BS, arguing that the symbol for the Republican Party “shouldn’t be an elephant — it should be a unicorn.” Here’s more from Maher, as he calls out the absurd Ryan budget, which has nothing to do with balancing the budget but everything to do with worshiping conservative dogma:

Paul Ryan is their tough guy on spending but he doesn’t want to touch defense — that’s right, a budget hawk who doesn’t think there’s anything bloated about the Defense Department’s budget. It’s like being a health inspector and finding nothing wrong with the Asian place that has the chicken hanging in the window. This is how low we’ve put the bar for political courage — that you can just write, “I want a pony” in a binder and call it the “Plan For Restoring Vision For the Future of America’s Greatness” or some shit, and then everyone has to refer to you as the serious one in Congress. It reminds me of health care. Republicans are for all the popular things, like covering people with pre-existing conditions, but they’re not for the part where you pay for it, like the mandate. Just like they were for our recent wars, but not for paying for them. For the prescription drug bill, but not for paying for it.

The GOP has courted their lunatic fringe for years, and now Americans are getting a close look of exactly what some of these nuts think.

Lugar loses in Indiana

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-IN, arrives for a vote on the Senate Democrats’ infrastructure bill followed by a vote on a Republican version on Capitol Hill in Washington on November 3, 2011. Neither bill passed cloture. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

I’m not sure what to make of the results in Indiana. Dick Lugar was defeated by a Tea Party candidate who thinks that Republicans are compromising too much in Washington. But how much can we read into this? Lugar was a terrible candidate who faced his first serious challenge in decades, and it showed. He did seem to be completely out of touch as his opponent charged.

All of a sudden, the Democrats have a real opportunity to pick up a seat. Indiana is a conservative state, but will they elect an extremist like Richard Mourdock?

No one likes a liar

Mitt Romney. UPI/Santa Fabio

This is Mitt Romney’s biggest problem.

Projecting moderation while professing extremism is quite a trick, and Romney may perhaps grasp the brass ring. But he makes everyone uneasy. Moderate Republican voters, of whom there may be more than meet the eye, may worry that President Romney will be captive to a GOP Congress beholden to the base. Tea Party types may worry that he’ll shake the Etch-A-Sketch again when dancing to a different piper, the general electorate and/or a divided Congress. No one, in any case, likes a liar, and people across the political spectrum know that Romney lies from sunup to sundown. Democrats know that nothing he says about Obama is true; conservatives know that nothing he says about his past positions and actions is true; and moderates know, or should know, that he’s betrayed them to the base.

Every politician plays the game, but Romney is just shameless.

Romney’s Super PAC goes after Rick Santorum

Not surprisingly, Mitt Romney’s Super PAC is now going after Rick Santorum. Romney’s team has no choice, as Romney’s support is plummeting, yet all the negativity surrounding Romney’s attack ads is taking its toll on Romney as well. He’s a lame candidate, and his only strategy seems to be tearing apart even lamer candidates. His support among independents is tanking, and his “severely conservative” speech is making him a laughing stock with conservatives.

As for Santorum, he’s vulnerable to attack for many reasons. In a general election he’ll have to answer for his extreme positions on social issues, but he’s also the poster child for Republican mistakes during the Bush years when they spent like crazy trying to keep their majority.

Yet even with all these vulnerabilities, the Romney ad comes across as a series of cheap shots. Sure, Santorum voted to increase the debt limit, but everyone was voting that way, including practically all Republicans when Bush was president.

I still have no idea how this is going to play out, but whoever emerges from this savage primary season will be very damaged heading into a general election.

Mitt Romney gave $100 million to his kids without paying gift taxes

Ann Romney introduces her husband, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, at a campaign rally in Las Vegas February 1, 2012. The Nevada caucuses take place on February 4. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

It’s all perfectly legal, but now we have another reason why Mitt Romney fought like crazy to avoid disclosing his tax returns.

Read the article from Reuters for all the gory details. All of this is tied to the “carried interest” exemption that is basically a gift to private equity managers on Wall Street.

Romney will get hammered for this and his overall tax rate in the campaign, and it’s a legitimate issue as Romney is arguing that taxes for the wealthy should be even lower.

Oh, and this is the same guy who just said he’s “not concerned about the very poor.” And yes, his tax plan calls for increasing taxes on the working poor.

I was planning a post on how the GOP deserved Newt Gingrich, as his nomination would be the culmination of a generation of Republican politicians who practiced the worst form of divisive politics. An Obama landslide over Newt would be the perfect ending to that story.

But Romney might be even better. He’s the poster child for the ridiculous conservative argument that all our problems will be solved by lowering taxes on rich people. Romney, in his attempt to hide his liberal past, has embraced right-wing dogma on practically every issue, including taxes. Now, the public will see exactly what today’s conservatives stand for, and they’ll have a walking and talking embodiment of the type of people who benefit from these policies.

I don’t suspect they’ll like what they see. This election will likely be very difficult for Obama if Romney is the nominee, but the more I see of him, the more he looks like a Mike Dukakis in terms of political skills. Romney has real vulnerabilities in states like Ohio where he supported the anti-union law that got repealed by over 60% in a referendum. If Romney loses Ohio it’s likely he can’t win.

Romney as Flipper

This is one of the funnier Mitt Romney flip-flop videos.

Newt Gingrich freaking out many on the right


You can’t really blame Ann Coulter and others on the right for their reactions to Newt’s victory in South Carolina. But the right deserves this. They’ve been built on hatred and contempt for the left and for Barack Obama, so this is what they get.

Tax issue is sinking Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney has had a bad week, and his “maybe” answer regarding his willingness to release tax returns for prior years like his father did many years ago will likely go down as one of those iconic campaign moments that help define a candidate.

It was obvious to me for the past month that this would be a real issue. The tax code has been manipulated for years by lobbyists, and wealthy financiers like Romney get huge breaks, including the indefensible carried interest.

Romney is particularly vulnerable on this issue as he’s proposing to lower tax rates on the wealthy even more. Now he has compounded the problem with his muddled answers.

The ad above was created quickly after his disastrous debate performance. Right now the polls suggest he’ll lose the South Carolina primary to Newt Gingrich.

Newt’s desire for an open marriage

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It’s been a mixed bag for Newt Gingrich today. Rick Perry dropped out of the race and endorsed him, but now his second wife, Marianne Gingrich, has come forward to give details about their marriage.

You can watch the video above, and the full interview will air tonight on Nightline.

Basically, Newt Gingrich was having an affair during his second marriage with Callista, who later became his third wife. According to Marianne, Newt wanted an “open marriage” so that he could continue the affair.

I’m not a big fan of the private sexual life of a politician being an issue in campaigns. There are plenty of men who have had affairs who managed to be good presidents. The hysteria over Bill Clinton’s personal shortcomings was idiotic, as it led to impeachment hearings.

But we know that these things matters to some voters, particularly conservative and religious voters. Newt’s marital problems are well-known, but this salacious detail regarding his desire for an open marriage will certainly garner attention. Had Bill Clinton run again, his personal life and the Monica Lewinsky affair certainly would have been issues as well.

Also, there are few people as contemptuous as Newt Gingrich. He’s always willing to pass judgement on others, often in the harshest terms, so if anyone deserves this scrutiny it’s him. He doesn’t have a warm personality or a record of good will to fall back on.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how this plays out. Gingrich has a real shot at derailing Mitt Romney, but he needs to get past this story. If he can’t, then perhaps Rick Santorum can emerge as the last obstacle to a Mitt Romney nomination.

Rick Perry acknowledged that Newt isn’t perfect and he stressed the importance of forgiveness and redemption. Let’s see how the evangelical voters of South Carolina feel about it.

Rick Perry drops out

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry participates in the ABC News, Yahoo! News, WMUR Republican Presidential Debate on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire on January 7, 2011. New Hampshire will hold the first-in-the-nation primary on January 10. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Rick Perry’s embarrassing foray into national politics will end today according to multiple press reports. In one of the worst fields of presidential candidates in modern political history, Rick Perry stood out as one of the chief yahoos in the confederacy of dunces.

This shouldn’t have been a surprise, as Perry’s main claim to fame leading up to 2012 was his suggestion that the State of Texas might secede from the union.

His debate “performances” have become legendary. He made George W. Bush sound like Lawrence Olivier. He consistently made outrageous statements, like this past week when he suggested that the leaders of NATO ally Turkey were “Islamic terrorists.”

Perry hoped that right wing hysteria might sweep him to the nomination, but Republican voters recoiled at his utter incompetence. You can’t rally voters if you can’t manage a coherent sentence. This week, Erick Erickson of RedState.com urged Perry to drop out. Understandably, conservatives do not want Mitt Romney as their nominee. Newt Gingrich is also a disaster for the GOP, but at least he has some credibility among conservatives and can handle himself in a debate.

Rick Perry finally realized that he had no chance in South Carolina and conservatives needed to stop splitting the anti-Romney vote. Perhaps he’s not quite as dumb as he sounds.

The “oops” candidate now leaves the national stage as one of the biggest laughing stocks in American politics.

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