In 2008, election integrity advocates in Tennessee won a hard and long-fought victory as the state legislature finally passed, on a bi-partisan basis, the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act (TVCA) requiring the state's wholly unverifiable touch-screen voting machines to be replaced with precinct-based optical-scan paper balloting in time for the crucial 2010 general election.
But in November of 2008, as the state was still using its completely faith-based electronic voting systems, it somehow managed to buck the national trend as the only state in the nation to see legislative gains for the Republican Party which managed to win a majority in the statehouse in the bargain. Ever since, the GOP majority, along with the Republican Secretary of State and Election Director, have been fighting against implementation of that paper ballot law.
A move in the legislature to delay the law until 2012 was narrowly defeated --- by a single vote --- earlier this year, but the state's Republican apparatchiks have continued attempts to forestall following the rule of law.
Late this week, however, a Nashville judge issued a ruling in a case brought by Common Cause seeking to force Secretary of State Tre Hargett to immediately implement the law he's so far refused to act on...
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called in the tea baggers to the Capitol in D.C. today for an "emergency house call" (that's great video!) in hopes of killing health care reform legislation. She was joined by dozens of fellow wingnut lawmakers who spoke to the disinformed crowd, promising "not a single Republican vote" for the bill before things turned strange later on.
There, in the crowd as the lawmakers spoke, among the baggers, was the following sign which, as Richard Blair notes, "not one of them denounced"...
I grew up in a fundamentalist missionary family that in the 1970s and 80s morphed into my father's activity as one of the founders of the Religious Right. We would hobnob with Republican leaders from Ronald Reagan to Gerald Ford and the Bush family, Jack Kemp and many others. One day it dawned on me that the far right of the Republican Party --- in other words its base --- actually hates America.
The Religious Right reveled in rising crime statistics, "family breakdown" statistics, failing public schools and so forth. As I explain in my book Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism), if crime started going down, or public school test results started going up --- without the country "turning back to Jesus" --- then that would prove that somehow "we" were wrong.
We wanted our country to fail because it had "turned away" from what we believed to be true.
Combined with the fact that we began to lose parts of the culture war, when it came to other Americans beginning to recognize gay rights, expanding women's rights, abortion rights and such, the Religious Right and the Republican Party infected gun-toting America with a chip on its shoulder about a mile wide. This led to the myth that "they" (fill in the blank, gays, Jews, blacks, liberals --- whatever) are "taking away our country from 'us'"...
What a weird life! In the 1970s and 80s I helped my late Evangelical-leader, Religious Right founder father as his nepotistic sidekick. We helped establish the Religious Right and send it on its merry way to doom. Now I --- a backslider former Evangelical, former Republican --- watch in amazed fascination as once again the Right I helped launch like a nasty little torpedo into the guts of the Republican Party once again explodes.
As you'll see below, even The Daily Show would be hard-pressed to satirize this self-satirizing teaser. And yes, this things seems to be for real and set for a DVD release on Thanksgiving. No, it's not a joke. It just looks and sounds a whole lot like one...
(On second thought...For the truly adventurous out there, maybe it can be satirized. It might be fun to take their voice-over track, and mash it up with our video somehow. But I should probably leave that to someone else, and otherwise get back to real work, right?! )
So we went out to Griffith Park out here in L.A. on Sunday to check out the kick-off day for the new "Tea Party Express II" national tour. Thought we might meet some interesting people and file a quick video report. Met a lot of interesting people, and so ended up making a short film of sorts. Enjoy. Spread the word. Go tell the story ("both sides")...
UPDATE 10/29/09: Boy, it's tough to compete with the Tea Baggers in the satire department, even when they're not actually trying to be satirical. As God is my witness, coming to you with a straight face this Thanksgiving --- Tea Party: The Documentary Film!...
UPDATE 11/9/09: As of today, we've had more than 11,000 views of Rise of the Tea Bags at YouTube. By Tea Bagger math, that's more than 3 million views! And yet, the media refuses to report it!!! Also, here's my interview on Air America Radio's Ring of Fire discussing the video...
Please see below for Jeremy Scahill at The Nation who, last week, covered the outrageous hypocrisy of federal legislation targeting ACORN (who committed no crimes), while the top 100 government contractors, who made "nearly $300 billion from federal contracts in 2007 alone" paid some "$26 billion in fines to settle cases stemming from fraud, waste or abuse".
By way of contrast with the federally favored criminal corporations, Scahill notes, "Over the past fifteen years, ACORN has received just $53 million in federal funds, much of it for low-income housing." Despite that, "In mid-September all but seventy-five House Democrats and seven senators voted with their Republican colleagues to bar the group from receiving federal funds."
The corporate welfare queens, of course, face no punitive legislative by Congress and are allowed to carry out their waste, fraud, abuse and often extraordinarily criminal behavior while on the tax-payer dole and nobody --- Republican or Democrat --- bats an eye.
Following the Scahill quotage on these points below, you'll find a must-see video clip of Florida's tenacious Rep. Alan Grayson, handing it to his Republican colleagues in a committee hearing this week, for their attempt to pass an "unconstitutional bill of attainder" meant solely to punish the GOP's favorite stalking-horse, ACORN. (See Rachel Maddow's expert coverage on the unconstitutionality of such bills, as posted late last month, for more details.)
Grayson's flat-out, apologetically cold-hearted unwillingness to yield the floor to the disingenuous wingnut cabal, and his shaming of them for pushing such an outrageously unconstitutional bill, is something to behold. Would that he were the model for what all Democrats sounded and acted like on behalf of the people. [Hat-tip to BRAD BLOG reader David Lasagna for the heads-up on that video. Now go watch it below!]
Following on Rachel Maddow's tremendous coverage last Thursday of the GOP's years-long witch-hunt of ACORN, and the media's abysmal job at telling the truth about the lies used to smear the community organization, the MSNBC journalist calls it an "outrage" and kept her promise of following up with another episode on Friday. The video is below.
Maddow continued her long-overdue exposé, by examining the "Defund ACORN Act of 2009," which recently passed both houses of Congress by large margins, after sting videos showing low-level ACORN employees behaving stupidly (but breaking no laws) were created and posted by rightwing operatives. As she notes, the Congressional bill appears to be both unconstitutional, and incredibly hypocritical, given that other, still-federally funded organizations --- such as Halliburton, Blackwater, and many, many more --- often receive far more federal funding in a single day than ACORN has received during the organization's entire lifetime.
Furthermore, those other organizations, which still receive billions from the U.S. government, were actually found to have committed actual crimes, such as millions of dollars worth of fraud, have been charged with murder and the deaths of U.S. troops, and even involve child prostitution and sex slavery!
It's odd that Fox "News," Glenn Beck, Andrew Breitbart, Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, et al. (including the bulk of the non-wingnut media!) have yet to point these matters out, isn't it? So thanks to Maddow, again, for doing so, along with credit to both Joe Conason, who pointed out some of this hypocrisy recently at Salon and, yes, ourselves, who similarly opined at the UK's Guardian.
Be sure to see her must-watch Thursday report back here. Her Friday report follows below, along with our repeated "thank you" to Rachel, and offer to help on any number of still-unreported points in the continuing GOP witch-hunt that both the media and Democrats have embarrassingly fallen for, and about which we have been reporting for years...
(By the way, be sure to catch's Mike's latest not-ironic-at-all column at the Republican News Channel (RNC)'s website on the "The Death of Journalism"!)
No doubt the Republican News Channel (RNC), recently seen on video-tape "stage managing" the Teabagger protests they sponsored last week in D.C., is very proud. Though perhaps they missed an opportunity by not putting Glenn Beck into the poll? With a show five days a week on the RNC, and on your public radio airwaves --- unlike Huckabee, who's only seen on weekends (though he does do a short syndicated daily essay on your public airwaves in 500 radio markets) --- it's likely he would have been a shoo-in! Why waste all that valuable air time, Fox, when you could be using it to put your superstar in office?!
This weekend's summit in D.C., as in previous years, celebrated far-rightwing liberal interpretations of the Constitution and extremist judicial activism, such as the promotion of big government intrusion into the lives of American citizens, the "right" of that government to come between patients and their doctors, and other anti-American values such as ignoring the Rule of Law, and the Constitutional right to equal protection under the law for same sex couples who wish to be recognized by the government as married, just like their heterosexual counterparts.
The winners and losers, out of 597 votes cast in the straw poll, were reported to have been Huckabee with 28%, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a distant second at 12%, followed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, with the celebrity community organizer and former Alaskan Governor who aborted her term earlier this year, Sarah Palin tying with Indiana's U.S. Rep. Mike Pence for fourth/fifth.
Congratulations to them all! You're all both winners and losers in our eyes!
I was asked by the Guardian UK earlier this week to write a piece about the latest ACORN. Thought it was to run yesterday, so hopefully it'll run today. [Update: Just heard from the Guardian with some good news, as they've decided to run the piece I wrote for them in their paper version on Monday, so it'll run online Sunday night. || FURTHER UPDATE: That piece is now posted here.] But until then, Joe Conason over at Salon has posted a similar, if longer, piece, "In Defense of ACORN" in which I'm mentioned by name in regard to one of the (many) great hypocrisies in all of this silliness:
If only the Republicans who have worked up a frenzy over ACORN's alleged crimes were so indignant about real and damaging voter fraud --- such as the amazing case of Young Political Majors, the firm that ran GOP registration efforts in California, Massachusetts, Florida, Arizona and elsewhere before the authorities in Orange County, Calif., busted its president, Mark Anthony Jacoby, and sent him to jail last year. He had built a lucrative partisan career by teaching his minions to deceive thousands of voters into registering as Republicans rather than Democrats, among other scams. Of course, the only on-air mention of the Young Political Majors scandal on Fox News was made by blogger Brad Friedman-- and the national media, mainstream and conservative, generally ignored it. They were too busy generating "controversy" over ACORN.
Conason also highlights another superb (and yes, classically wingnut hypocritical) point which I didn't note in my own piece...
I was strolling through my local county fair this summer, a small fair, a friendly fair, where cows, sheep, and pigs outnumber food vendors.
The Republican booth caught my eye, but not because of the red, white, and blue decorations. What caught my eye was the sign they'd posted, the sign that summed up the one key issue of importance to local Republicans.
What would it be, in this raucous political summer of 2009? Anger over bailouts, fear over death panels? No. The number one issue for Amador County Republicans: "Save Talk Radio."
I hadn't realized that the industry that just signed a $400 million contract with Rush Limbaugh needed saving, but they thought so; they even had a petition to save it...
Our collective failure to meet this challenge --- year after year, decade after decade --- has led us to a breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy...
We are the only advanced democracy on Earth...that allows such hardships for millions of its people….In just a two year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage...
But the problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem of the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today…More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won’t pay the full cost of care. It happens every day.
That was the easy part. Anyone who has paid attention understands that the core problem lies in the profit motives of the private insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Thus, the President's diagnosis of the U.S. health care system was accurate, but did he prescribe "change we can believe in?"...
A 65-year-old man cheering healthcare reform in Miami was punched in the face and knocked to the ground by an opponent of a public health plan, according to a reporter at the scene. The rally took place outside a Great Miami Chamber of Commerce event where Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) was speaking.
"I'm amazed the way this has become such a politicized issue,'' [the victim, Luis] Perrero told [Miami Herald's Toulouse] Oloronippa. "It shows that people who are against the public option will resort to anything, including battery on a senior citizen to prevent healthcare reform.''
Perrero is right, and extremely lucky, that all he received was a punch in the face. As we've noted, on several occasions, we'll consider it a great success if we can make it through this teabagging nightmare without someone getting killed.
Are there any grown-up Republicans left out there? Can anybody save that party (and the country along with it) from utter ruin?