(May 8, 2012)

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President Barack Obama, who frequently appears battered and weary at the tail end of a bruising first term, came to Virginia this past Saturday in a vigorous mood. The POTUS chose the swing state he won in 2008 to formally launch his drive for re-election, casting the 2012 race as “a make or break moment for the middle class.”

Compare this rousing event, where Obama declared himself “still fired up,” in front of a crowd of 8,000 at VCU’s Siegel Center, many of whom braved a downpour to get into see the president and first lady, to Mitt Romney’s own opening salvo a little over two weeks ago. Romney officially launched his general election campaign in the State of New Hampshire at an afternoon barbecue held at the Bittersweet Farm, operated by Republicans Doug and Stella Scamman. Zzzzz…..

It’s true that Ron Paul and Newt Gingrinch had not formally decamped at that time, which may account for some of the event’s timidity. But Ron Paul never believed he had a shot anyway and as for Gingrich, this might be the last political office for which he was momentarily considered a serious contender. He was going to roll around in the spotlight and savor every ray before he and third wife Callista retreated to their cynical Catholic piety.

But back to Romney. CBS News noted the symmetry of the campaign’s pivot toward the general election in New Hampshire, with reporter Sarah B. Boxer writing, “Romney’s current bid for the White House began on June 2, 2011 on Scamman Farm in Stafford, N.H., and the campaign considers his return Tuesday as a full circle moment for the candidate.”

Have we REALLY been enduring Romney’s second Presidential campaign for nearly a full year? It’s like the network television procedural that goes on for seasons while an entertaining, witty gem struggles to find an audience. He is the CSI: Miami of the political playing field. And perhaps for the second time that week, Team Romney selected an ill-advised locale for a photo op. Remember that shuttered dry-wall factory in Lorain, Ohio in mid-April? The one held up as an Obama policy failure that actually closed under the Bush regime? Yeah. Oops.

And it appears that the Romney people, sensing an obvious dearth of triumphant environments in their man’s history, were poised to occupy their rightful place once more as fish in a barrel. As CBS News went on to note, “On Monday evening, the University of New Hampshire released a new poll showing President Obama ahead of Romney 51 percent to 42 percent in New Hampshire. Mr. Obama’s re-election team is quick to point out that Romney’s campaign cleared out of the state immediately following the primary – often noting that his bustling headquarters in Manchester went dark the next day.”

By now we’re used to this from Romney, right? Wherever he needs to go is where he wants to be! The trees in New Hampshire are so green! The people are so real! And what’s that noise? Why it’s the shaking of the Etch-a-Sketch, the sound that may preclude residents of New Hampshire from remembering that Team Romney skipped town the moment the State stopped suiting his immediate purposes.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Romney folks are strenuously refuting any suggestion that their candidate is out of touch with local voters. Mitt’s senior adviser in New Hampshire, Jim Merrill was quoted as saying, “I would characterize what the Obama campaign says as nonsense, complete nonsense.”

Ah yes, the “I’m rubber you’re glue” deflection, a time-honored tool in the GOP debate arsenal. Game on. Good luck Mittens!

Hey You! Get Off of My Head (October 26, 2010)

Woman’s Head Stepped on by Rand Paul Supporters
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_kentucky_senate_scuffle

My friends, even in this most wacky of mid-term election campaign cycles, that is just not a headline one encounters everyday. As I woke up this morning, booted up the computer and perused my Yahoo home page, this story naturally caught my attention.

Rand Paul, as we all know by now, is the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky. The political newbie and practicing ophthalmologist won his party’s nomination in May of this year, riding a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment and sudden Tea Party relevance. Paul’s father, Republican congressmen and Presidential also ran, Ron Paul, endorsed his son’s candidacy early on, a bid to replace beleaguered Republican Kentucky senator Jim Bunning. That blessing and the backing of the suddenly powerful Tea Party machine, has been enough to propel Rand to a reported 15-point lead over Democratic opponent Jack Conway.

But it hasn’t all been a smooth ride for populist poster boy Rand Paul. On May 19th the candidate famously ran afoul of enlightened people when he stated that had he been a senator during 1960s, he would have raised some questions on the constitutionality of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits private businesses who provide public accommodations from discriminating on the basis of race, religion, or national origin against their customers. Paul argued that this title infringes upon constitutional freedoms. The would be senator got his first lesson in public backpedaling when the inevitable firestorm ensued.

And now this. The article above reports that “Lauren Valle of liberal group MoveOn.org, told Louisville station WDRB she was trying to give Paul a fake award when his supporters took her to the ground.

Television footage shows Valle’s blonde wig being pulled off before she’s pinned to ground. A man then puts his foot down on her head. Valle said the incident left her with ‘a bit of a headache.'”

Once I got done unclutching my abdomen after a full few minutes mirth, I became a little concerned about the members of the Rand Paul security team. During a campaign season of unparalleled hubris, have these folks gotten themselves confused with the Secret Service? What right did they have to get between a non-violent citizen and the candidate she peacefully opposes? This is downright undemocratic, although as we witnessed in last week’s firing of NPR commentator Juan Williams, the room for honest, diplomatic discourse grows ever smaller on both side of the aisle.

If you watch this video of the melee, it’s actually a little disturbing. The head stomper in question knew this maneuver was unnecessary. The slight Valle was already restrained on the ground. This is not Iran people.

Arrest of Rand Paul’s Son Continues Family Legacy of Woman Hating (January 15, 2013)

william-paul

The Associated Press is reporting today that 19-year-old William Paul, the son of Republican senator Rand Paul from Kentucky and grandson of ever-present presidential candidate Ron Paul, was charged with misdemeanor assault. William Paul was taking a flight that deplaned in Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. While details of the arrest remain vague as the story develops, what is known is that young Mr. Paul is suspected of assaulting a female flight attendant “by aggressive physical force.”

We are aware of the historically poor choices made by young adults from time to time and it is critical not to rush to a determined judgment until all facts are brought to light. As I read the AP’s brief piece, I found myself weary and resigned. While William Paul has never run for public office, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, does it?

Remember in October 2010 when MoveOn.org volunteer Lauren Valle had her head stomped at a Rand Paul Rally? Who can forget the repugnant images of the small woman falling under the burly feet of Paul’s testosterone-enraged security detail.  A close Paul aide labeled the incident “incredibly unfortunate” at the time., Can we feign surprise at the disrespectful and dangerous treatment of female protesters from a team that believes it has a right to comprehensively control the female body? Rand Paul is opposed to abortion without exception, even in cases of rape or incest. He supports a Human Life Amendment and a Life at Conception Act, which confer more privileges and protection on a cluster of cells than a living, independently breathing female adult. Need it be said that he also favors the overturn of Roe v. Wade, allowing states to decide the issue of abortion unburdened from federal involvement?

And here is Rand Paul’s enlightened stance on the tolerance ofsexual harassment in the office: “There are people now who hesitate to tell a joke to a woman in the workplace, any kind of joke, because it could be interpreted incorrectly.”

In 2012, Rand Paul had this to say about the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill designed to equate the pay of workers irrespective of gender: “Three hundred million people get to vote everyday on what you should be paid or what the price of goods are…In the Soviet Union, the Politburo decided the price of bread, and they either had no bread or too much bread. So setting prices or wages by the government is always a bad idea.”

Given his father’s illustrious track record as a patriarchal patronizer of female equality, William Paul’s brush with the law is hardly shocking. The entitled son of the political elite is further accused of “underage drinking, disorderly conduct and being intoxicated and disruptive.”

Rand Paul must be very proud. His son has done a magnificent job of ingesting and reflecting his father’s ideology. If Paul is concerned about the effect of William’s imbroglio on his popularity and re-election chances, clearly, he has no one to blame but himself.

GOP Convention: Tuesday Night Drinking Games (August 28, 2012)

Whether anyone is ready for it or not, the Republican National Convention is in full swing. Though it is likely to be one of the dullest affairs in recent memory, hurricane warnings and the mutiny threats of Ron Paul supporters aside, conservative media outlets certainly can’t be accused of understatement. This morning’s online edition of The Washington Post did its level best to drum up the kind of hype typically reserved for community sporting events like the Super Bowl or the recently-concluded Summer Olympics. The paper’s TV section published a piece entitled, “Today in RNC TV: Where to watch the Republican National Convention.”

Can you picture it? Viewing parties at restaurants, bars and taverns across the nation! Drinking games! Take a shot every time a speaker calls President Obama a socialist! Do a keg stand for each each personality present who represents an assault on women’s rights! Can you imagine the drunkenness? Ah yes, these parties would outdo Prince Harry’s recent bout of Vegas revelry, and the naughty monarch and Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan boast roughly the same percentage of body fat.

Barring any last-minute interference from Tropical Storm Isaac, The Post reports that “At least 13 networks are covering the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week. Tuesday night, primetime events include a speech from Ann Romney, and Gov. Chris Christie with the keynote address.” Tampa, land of lot lizards and strip clubs, does seem like a fitting locale for the revelry. After all the city is nearly 63 percent Caucasian, Florida at large contains a disproportionate number of senior citizens and the State boasts an absence of individual income tax liability. If only there wasn’t that pesky business to avoid about Ryan’s plan to demolish Medicare as we know it, the site of the convention would be a mutual admiration society unparalleled.

While the GOP establishment celebrates its whitewashed, wealthy male homogeny, Ron Paul loyalists did threaten to make things interesting for a moment. However a last minute bargain deprived excited liberals and centrists from an anticipated burst of schadenfreude, the still-inevitable showdown between the Tea Party crackpots who have hijacked the conservative movement and the dwindling number of rational party members fighting for survival. Instead, ABC News reported “a compromise on Republican Party rules will likely prevent a convention floor fight on Tuesday. Republican National Committeeman James Bopp…explained the impetus for the proposed change, in the first place, as fear that Ron Paul supporters bound to Mitt Romney would break party rules and instead vote for Paul.”

Some events are just too delicious a prospect to actually occur. Imagine the embarrassment. Pundits and writers have been saying for years now that Mittens is the candidate so divisive and boring that even his own party is conflicted. Conventions are supposed to be about unity, no matter how forced. Too see this illusion crumble to pieces on national television…well it was a nice idea.

Instead we’ll be treated to inspiring words from ultimate Stepford wife Ann Romney, she of the tearful tithes, and Chris Christie, the popular Governor of New Jersey, considered a rising star of the Republican party. Supposedly the poster boy for responsible fiscal austerity, which may influence the content of his remarks, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had a go at Christie’s pretension yesterday when he observed, “The Governor was willing to cancel the desperately needed project to build another rail tunnel linking the state to Manhattan, but has invested state funds in a megamall in the Meadowlands and a casino in Atlantic City.”

It may be wise to plan ahead and take the day off of work tomorrow (provided that eight years of the Bush regime left you with a job) if you plan to indulge in the Convention drinking game that I favor: a sip for every hypocritical utterance. Cheers!

Mitt Romney Shakes His Etch-A-Sketch, But Women Don’t Forget (April 16, 2012)

Frankly, I was surprised that Rick Santorum threw in the towel last week. The numbers made clear that a path to winning the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination was all but impossible for our favorite radical Christian, but the current slate of candidates have never gone in much for reality. I think it’s the practicality of the move that stunned me.

With Santorum disposed, Mitt Romney’s remaining competition includes King of Hubris Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, who indicated throughout the entire primary that he understood his campaign’s futility. Quite an inspiring duo aren’t they?

So the candidate nobody in the GOP really wanted, and for whom they still can’t get an erection, is on his way to accepting the nomination in scenic Tampa, Florida this August. Tampa, land of strip clubs and men in trucker hats, seems a fitting locale for a bunch of wealthy, mostly white, patriarchal ideology producers to anoint their sacrificial lamb.

Because now Romney has to shake that Etch-A-Sketch. Game on. (I bet Eric Ferhnstrom, Romney’s adviser and utterer of the ubiquitous sound bite that keeps on giving, wished for a time machine in his Easter basket.) President Obama long enjoyed the luxury of not having to address the freak show exhibits that comprised the Republican primary slate. But now that we’ve got something approximating a general election campaign, he occasionally has to tear his attention away from running a nation facing so many challenges to swat away jabs from Mittens.

To a point I sympathize with the Romney camp. Not only is their man dull as a butter knife (no insult to butter intended), which will only become more glaringly obvious when he enters the debate arena with the President, but he’s also saddled with a comical load of flip flops and rhetorical left turns. I don’t know how his staff will find time to prepare an offense when there’s so much to combat defensively: family dogs on the car roof, Romneycare and the good old Etch-A-Sketch comment just to pick a few easy cherries.

Romney has spent months and years pandering to the GOP power base, social conservatives who treat a belief in global warming or women’s reproductive rights as a “liberal” litmus test. There have been moments when I’ve pitied the open degradation of Romney’s integrity, his unwillingness to stand by his moderate record, but it doesn’t seem to bother him.

That type of radical right kowtowing may have seemed necessary until last week. But Romney has to face the rest of us now, the mainstream whose votes he needs just as badly. And given his limp track record for uniting his own party, Mitt has a tough slog ahead. How do you hit the reset button and arrive at anything approaching credibility?

President Obama excels at campaigning, to put it mildly. He is a wunderkind, an interview subject and debater able to convey intelligence and gravity as well as charm and humor. To watch him make mincemeat of John McCain on the regular during the 2008 campaign tempted invocation of the slaughter rule.

Mitt Romney is in for it. If nothing else, McCain has a personality and the deserved respect of his country as a decorated war veteran. Romney is a corporate viper, a smarmy, colorless ladder climber who approaches the Presidency like an item to check off his career bucket list. He will say anything to win the election, hitching his wagon to the notion that his fellow Americans are a bunch of ADD-afflicted sheep who will forget everything he has said and done in the past to accept his position of the moment.

I don’t think it’s possible to shake the Etch-A-Sketch hard enough to make the nation’s women forget the attacks on their rights this year. That’s slightly over half the electorate right there. Like I said, game on.