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The 2012 Election and the State of the Nation

Back in 2004, I send out a little essay on post-election reflections that several folks passed around (by e-mail, back in those pre-Facebook days). In 2008 I sent another, more hopeful post-election message; and I guess I'm making it a tradition now.

One bit of good news, looking back at that 2004 message, is how the landscape has shifted on the question of marriage equality. In that election, gay marriage was used to as a hot-button issue to get right-wing voters to the polls. But today I stand as a proud citizen of one of the first states to have its electorate affirm the civil marriage rights of same-sex couples, as Maryland voters approved Question 6. Hooray!

Why Do So Many Republicans Really Hate Obama? (The National Memo)

Gallup polls show Obama winning among voters in the East, West, and Midwest. It's the south that has Romney ahead. At The National Memo, Gene Lyons looks at Why Do So Many Republicans Really Hate Obama?, and finds that the answer lies in the South and its peculiar institutions of "conspiratorial threats and eschatological panics":

Yet another reason the GOP must be destroyed: Arkansas Rep. Loy Mauch

It seems like every week brings an account of a new despicable Republican politician, from New Hampshire Republican Martin Harty's call to let "defective people" die, to Todd Akin's vile comments on "legitimate rape", to Paul Ryan's staged photo-op at a soup kitchen. (Ok, maybe that last one was more pathetic than despicable; certainly funnier that the others, in a tragicomic sort of way.)

Here's this week's contender for the GOP delenda est prize: Arkansas Representative Loy Mauch. Before this insane neo-Confederate managed to round up enough ignorant and brain-damaged people to elect him to office, he was a regular in the letters page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Arkansas Times blogger Max Brantley has gone through the archives to find some of Mauch's gems:

Congressman calls evolution lie from ‘pit of hell’ (Boston Herald)

From the "Why America is Doomed" file: Georgia Congressman Paul Broun said in videotaped remarks that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are "lies straight from the pit of hell" that keep people "from understanding that they need a savior." (Since he was speaking at Baptist church, we can assume that he was not talking about a short duration personal savior.)

Broun, who also said that he believes the Earth is about 9,000 years old and that it was made in six days, sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. That's right: this young-earth creationist, and climate change denialist to boot, sits on the Science, Space and Technology committee.

Doomed, I say.

You will not be surprised to learn that he's a Republican and teabagger, who took office after winning a special election in 2007 by 394 votes. Oh, and he proposed amending the Constitution to define marriage as being between one woman and one man; like many defenders of "traditional" marriage, he's been married four times.

He's running for re-election -- and since he's unopposed by any Democratic challenger, it's 99.99% likely that he'll be back for another two years. (Why no challenge from the Democrats? Probably because demographics, gerrymandering, and hyperpartisanship has made a general election challenge impossible.)

This seems to be a case where life imitates XKCD.

Ryan: Don't interfere with legalized medical pot (Yahoo! News)

I hate to give Ryan points, but his take on this is more sensible than Obama's or Biden's. Obama's crackdown on medical cannabis is one of the reasons he lost my vote. (Not that I'm voting for Romney/Ryan either.) Ryan: Don't interfere with legalized medical pot

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan says the federal government shouldn't interfere with states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Fmr. Bush strategist calls out Paul Ryan over convention speech lies (The Raw Story)

If a Bush strategist thinks the GOP is laying on the BS a bit thick, time to break out the hip waders,

Fmr. Bush strategist calls out Paul Ryan over convention speech lies

Matthew Dowd, President George W. Bush’s former chief strategist, on Sunday said that Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan “so stretched the truth” during his convention speech by suggesting that President Barack Obama was responsible for a GM plant that closed before he took office.

Enough With the Rape Gaffes - In These Times

Interesting piece by Sady Doyle at In These Times: Enough With the Rape Gaffes

What Republicans are pushing for is not acceptance of rape. They're pushing for the idea that abortion is also a violent crime, a worse crime than rape, and that it too should be illegal. Which simply isn't true: Abortion is a reliable, safe medical procedure, usually done when the fetus is nowhere near viability. Like contraception, abortion frees people with uteruses to live full lives, including full sexual lives, without having to worry that any sexual problem (from a broken condom to a sexual assault) might necessarily result in their bearing children that they can't afford or don't want. Abortion is autonomy. Autonomy is essential. Therefore, abortion is good.

Obama "anti-colonial"? I wish!

The attempt by some Republicans to smear Obama as some sort of "anti-colonialist" is deeply bizarre for two reasons. First, it's not based on any facts; second, it suggests that being opposed to the exploitation and bloodshed of colonialism is somehow a bad thing.

The anti-colonial accusation is at the heart of far-right talking head Dinesh D'Souza's light-on-facts, heavy-on-paranoia film 2016: Obama's America. D'Souza has been beating this drum for a while; he seems to believe that Obama became President as part of some plot to destroy American in revenge for its colonial sins. (Or, quite possibly, he does not actually believe this tripe but knows it will rile up the racist and nationalist elements in the GOP base.)

Now it seems to me pretty bizarre to accuse someone who has kept U.S. troops occupying foreign lands for almost four years, and has claimed the imperial power to designate people for death without trial, review, or any legal process at all, as some sort of grand opponent of colonialism. He might be less of a proponent of it than D'Souza and his ilk, but like every other Americans president of the past century and half or so, Obama is a colonialist who sees the main purpose of the world outside the U.S. as being to serve American interests.

As Lamar W. Hankins notes,

...An anti-colonialist would have already ended the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by American military forces. An anti-colonialist would not have joined NATO in the bombing of Gaddafi’s forces in Libya. An anti-colonialist would not be using drones regularly in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere. An anti-colonialist would not be continuing the decades-long involvement of this country in Colombia. An anti-colonialist would not maintain the 50-year embargo against Cuba. An anti-colonialist would not be funding the expansion of military bases in the Middle East. An anti-colonialist would not continue funding the wide-spread violation of human rights by the military in Colombia. An anti-colonialist would not be maintaining 900 military installations in 130 countries around the world. An anti-colonialist would not be expanding the military, whose primary use historically has been colonial expansion on behalf of American commercial and economic interests.

D’Souza, Gingrich, Ricketts and all the other anti-Obama zealots seem incapable of seeing Obama for what he really is – a mainstream, American exceptionalist with a colonialist mentality. Every president in my lifetime has pursued a colonialist agenda, some more than others. Obama fits right in the middle of this group – not the most expansionist, but not anywhere close to being the least expansionist. Unlike the earlier colonialism, where we actually controlled the apparatus of government in other countries, we now use our military might and economic leverage (directly and through the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development) to control the policies of other countries. None of this has changed under Obama.

Missouri Republican official: ‘God chose to bless’ women with pregnancies from rape | The Raw Story

Following up on the Todd Akin saga, a Missouri Republican Committeewoman has managed to say something even stupider. From The Raw Story: Missouri Republican official: ‘God chose to bless’ women with pregnancies from rape

GOP 4th Senate District Committeewoman Sharon Barnes told The New York Times “that abortion is never an option.”


Barnes “echoed Mr. Akin’s statement that very few rapes resulted in pregnancy,” according to the Times, and she added that “at that point, if God has chosen to bless this person with a life, you don’t kill it.”

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