Republicans find their voice: turns out, it’s whiny

The New York Time interviewed some US elected officials and their boss, Grover Norquist. It’s worth a read because it’s really pretty funny:

The first dissenter:

Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah has signed a pledge never to raise taxes. He signed another pledge too, one that made it nearly impossible to vote for a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. But right before that vote over the summer, in a meeting with scores of his Republican colleagues, he stood up and proclaimed that he would never sign another pledge.

It spreads, and goes public:

On Tuesday, Representative Frank R. Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, took to the House floor for a rare excoriation of the anti-tax activist Grover G. Norquist and his strictly worded pledge, which has been signed by almost the entire Republican caucus as well as a few Democrats.

A day later, Senator John Thune of South Dakota suggested that anti-tax pledges ought to be revisited, because they can be interpreted too broadly in closing loopholes or eliminating tax deductions. “We shouldn’t be bound by something that could be interpreted different ways if what we’re trying to accomplish is broad-based tax reform,” he said.

John Thune just got around to reading the pledge he signed, apparently. I love that he’s offered to negotiate terms, unlike the rabble-raisers in the House. Very senatorial of him. I guess he and Norquist meet, and Norquist tells the Senator from…wherever what modifications or revisions he, Norquist, will accept.

Mr. Norquist, who heads the group Americans for Tax Reform, uses his pledge, which began in 1986 with the endorsement of President Reagan, as a litmus test for candidates on taxes. Known as the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, it makes candidates and incumbents “bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases.” Hundreds of Republicans have signed it, including all six on the bipartisan Congressional deficit reduction committee.

Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who also signed it, said in an interview: “I’ve signed more pledges than I should have over the years. All of us ought to be somewhat reluctant to make these pledges. I think people who have been here longer do fewer.”

In other words, chumps sign pledges, which leads us to the Men Who Would Be President:

To be sure, the majority of Republican lawmakers are not running away from Mr. Norquist. All the Republican presidential candidates other than Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former governor of Utah, have gotten on board.

Mr. Norquist said that those who raise questions about the pledge often do not understand it. “The pledge specifically says you can eliminate tax deductions if you bring rates down at same time,” he said. “The people who say that the pledge would get in the way of tax reform, well their point is they want a tax increase.”

The pledge specifically says…can’t you just hear the snotty tone as he says that?

Since “those who are now raising questions about the pledge” are the spineless morons who signed one, Grover Norquist is telling us that conservative lawmakers, including at least one Senator, signed a pledge that they didn’t understand.

Open Thread: More Re-Framing

(Tom Toles via
Since I worried about this on an earlier post, props to Dave Weigel for following up, and applause to Rep. Kathy Hochul, winner:

All week, I’ve been wondering if the Democratic loss in NY-9 proved that Democrats were losing entitlements as a wedge issue… Why not [ask] Kathy Hochul, the Democrat who won NY-26 largely by clobbering her Republican opponent on the Ryan plan? I asked Hochul about this after a vote this week. Her spin:

“We need to cut the underlying costs of health care, which are making Medicare more expensive. Democrats are in agreement — we talk about this all the time. We have to make sure that we get equity with respect to prescription drugs — the drug prices under Medicare are obscenely high. Why are veterans at VA hospitals paying less for prescription drugs than people who are under Medicare Part D? That’s an area we should go after. Medicare fraud is getting out of control — just look at all the prosecutions on Medicare fraud. I think we should have Medicare cover home health care. Look at the savings we’d have if we covered home health care and tele-health services. Instead, people in rural areas have to go hospitals at the dead of the night. If we look at this holistically, we can cut the underlying costs.”
That’s how Democrats can win? “That’s what I’m saying. I don’t want the Medicare beneficiares touched. They can’t afford to have $7000 out of their pockets, as was proposed in the Ryan budget.”

Consider this an Open Thread, because I said so.

News about Troy Davis + another Georgia official who can help.

[From Emily L. Hauser: Please sign this petition asking the DA to withdraw the death warrant and share it with your friends. -ABLxx]

I’m thrilled to report that earlier today, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles was “swamped with Troy Davis petitions.” More than 650,000 signatures! (And I know one of the people who helped count!)

It’s not too late to add your name to the list (click here), and even if your name is already in the Board of Pardon’s offices, I have another petition for you to sign: This one is via and Mr. Davis’s younger sister Kimberly, and directed to Chatham Count DA Larry Chisholm. As District Attorney, Chisholm is in a position to request that the court withdraw the death warrant against Mr. Davis, which would of course be a very good thing. So far the petition has very few signatures (it was just put up this afternoon) — please swell those numbers, by signing (click here) and asking others to do the same.

[cross-posted at ABLC]

Racist Shit

As a general rule when a black person or persons tell me something is racist or bordering on racist, particularly people I respect like ABL and TNC, I don’t argue. If I disagreed with them initially or just didn’t notice the racist aspect of something, what I try to do is just be quiet for a minute. Then I try to figure out what it is that made me not recognize something as racist. I’d say a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am a middle-aged white guy from a state with a small minority population, and I just don’t have the same experiences. Like I have said before, it wasn’t until ABL came on board here and I started seeing some of the truly awful things people write (and I promptly delete out of the spam filter so no one else, especially ABL, will see them), that I ever really thought about these things.

And why would I? I’m a white guy, I’ve never said any of those things or thought them, and they’ve never been directed at me. I mean, we all recognize the overtly racist crap- the fried chicken and watermelon jokes, the pictures of Obama with a bone through his nose, the slurs (the n-bomb comes to mind), etc. And since I don’t live in a very cosmopolitan area, I don’t have a lot of black friends- where I am is pretty damned Mayberry white. So I don’t notice these things, and I don’t have a history of dealing with the more subtle aspects of racism.

Having said all that, even my pasty fish-belly white self can recognize that what Michael Moore said was racist- “I went into the polls voting for the black guy, and what I got was the white guy…” That doesn’t mean he is racist, but it sure as hell does mean he made a racist remark. I don’t even know why this is controversial it is so obvious. What exactly was Michael Moore expecting from “the black guy?” Let’s flash back to the 2008 election and watch this little video from my state:

All that bullshit about “someone they know” or “someone who can recite the Pledge of Allegiance” or the other stuff you all rightly recognized as them saying “I WON’T VOTE FOR A BLACK PRESIDENT.” How, exactly, is what Moore said any fundamentally different from Republicans whipping up fear about Obama in 2008 because we don’t want rule by a “black President.” It’s the same god damned thing, just Moore wanted “the Black President” and all the people the Republicans wanted to scare didn’t want “the black President.” It’s the flip side of the same damned coin.

The fact that there have now been two threads, and some of you still don’t seem to get it, makes me wonder something that is itself bordering on racist, mainly- “WTF IS WRONG WITH ALL YOU WHITE PEOPLE?”

And I’m done talking about this crap. I’m seriously sick and tired of some of you who every time ABL posts something, you go ballistic and start calling her a race-baiter. It’s absurd, and ABL isn’t the one who looks stupid. Sure, she is over-the-top and in-your-face, and she’ll admit to it, but maybe you should just take a moment, shut the fuck up and be quiet, and think about why she is interpreting things through a different lens than you are. Or, if issues of race are so unsettling to you, you just scroll past her posts and continue to convince yourself we live in a post-racial America, and you won’t have to trouble your pretty little head with the kind of ugly crap that good people like ABL, TNC, and your President and his wife and beautiful daughters go through every day. It’ll be easier that way. You can tell yourself “I’m not racist, so therefore it doesn’t exist.” It will keep you from grappling with things. It will keep you from saying “Wow. You know, I never knew that something I used to say or do could be perceived as racist.” You’ll not have to deal with the fact that good people can still say stupid ugly things, even when they don’t mean to. You’ll never have to think about the fact that maybe you’ve been doing something or saying something hurtful or ugly without even meaning to, because your intentions are as pure as the Virgin Mary. You can just keep on rolling on, and mutter to yourself about all those hyper-sensitive black people.

“Writing about Troy Davis for The Atlantic online.” – Emily L. Hauser

[Troy Davis has eight days left.  Here is Emily L. Hauser’s beautiful piece which was published in The Atlantic online.  -ABLxx]

I am beyond pleased and deeply humbled to say that The Atlantic online accepted an essay that I wrote this morning about the Troy Davis case. As a language nerd and something of a bluestocking by nature, the idea that my name is anywhere associated with The Atlantic blows my mind. The fact that the piece in question may help Troy Davis in some small way kind of brings me to my knees.

Here’s the top of the piece, but please click through to read the rest — I want to give The Atlantic a lot of love today, and would be so happy for you to read the whole thing. And if you haven’t yet had a chance to act to help Mr. Davis in his clemency bid, please do so (click here for links, etc) — there are only six days left until his clemency hearing, only eight until his execution date.

Explaining the Death Penalty to My Children

“How does it work?” my eight-year-old asked last Saturday morning . “Will he just stand there and have to — let them kill him?”

She was asking me about Troy Davis, a man on Georgia’s death row who is slated to be executed on September 21.

There’s been much talk about Davis in our house, so the night before, I’d tried to explain: Found guilty of killing a police officer, Davis was sentenced to death in 1991, but in the meantime, the case against him has fallen apart.

Seven out of the nine people who said it was him have “recanted” or changed their testimony, I told my daughter and her older brother, explaining what that meant. “What about the other two?” my son asked.