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Michael Hastings’ Bowe Bergdahl Article That the GOP Doesn’t Want You to Read

11:35 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Michael Hastings in a crowd at Election Night 2012

A look back at Michael Hastings’ prophetic article on POW Bowe Bergdahl

When the Republicans scream that they were caught totally by surprise by the prisoner exchange that in all likelihood marks the winding down of the US war on Afghanistan, they are of course lying.

For one thing, GOP strategists were shopping around interviews with cherry-picked members of Bergdahl’s unit even as Obama was in the Rose Garden with Bergdahl’s parents heralding the exchange as the return of America’s last POW.

For another, House and Senate Republicans had known about the negotiations to free America’s last POW since January of 2012.

For yet another, the GOP strategists probably didn’t vet the military histories of the persons they’re shoving in front of every microphone they can find, as it turns out that the unit in question was a problem unit, and a badly led one, well before it reached Afghanistan.

Rolling Stone just reprinted “America’s Last Prisoner of War,” the 2012 Bergdahl article by the late journalist Michael Hastings:

The discipline problems that had plagued Bowe’s unit back home only got worse when immersed in the fog of war. From the start, everything seemed to go wrong. In April, Lt. Fancey was removed from his post for clashing with a superior officer. He was replaced by Sgt. 1st Class Larry Hein, who had never held such a command – a move that left the remote outpost with no officers. According to four soldiers in the battalion, the removal of Fancey was quickly followed by a collapse in unit morale and an almost complete breakdown of authority.

The unruly situation was captured by Sean Smith, a British documentary filmmaker with The Guardian who spent a month embedded with Bowe’s unit. His footage shows a bunch of soldiers who no longer give a shit: breaking even the most basic rules of combat, like wearing baseball caps on patrol instead of helmets. In footage from a raid on a family compound, an old Afghan woman screams at the unit, ‘Look at these cruel people!’ One soldier bitches about what he sees as the cowardice of the Afghan villagers he is supposed to be protecting: ‘They say like, the Taliban comes down and aggravated­ their town and harasses them… Why don’t you kill those motherfuckers? All of you have AKs. If someone is going into my hometown, I know my town wouldn’t stand for that shit. I’d be like, “Fuck you, you’re dead.”‘ Another soldier laments, ‘These people just want to be left alone.’ A third agrees: ‘They got dicked with by the Russians for 17 years, and now we’re here.’

Crossposted to Mercury Rising.

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Virginia Senate Republicans Can’t Even Stage a Coup Right

8:17 pm in Elections, Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Dear Virginia Republicans: When you shoot at a king, you must kill him. And when you opt to attempt a colossally arrogant and slimy stunt, you’d better make sure in advance that it will work.

Yesterday, on a public holiday, while a member of the Democratic caucus of the Virginia Senate (currently split 20-20) was attending the inauguration in DC, the Republican caucus decided to launch a dirty trick (h/t to Lowkell at Blue Virginia):

You don’t get more slimy, sneaky, underhanded, etc. than this (great work by Ben Tribbett alerting us to what was going on in the following series of Facebook updates):

“Wow- Republicans in the Virginia Senate are now trying to redraw the maps and draw at least one Democratic Senator out of the Senate. Happening right now on the floor.”

“COUP GOING ON IN VIRGINIA SENATE: Republicans have just brought all new Senate districts to the floor with Henry Marsh gone in DC, now 30 minutes of debate before they send them to the House of Delegates.”

“COUP SUCCESSFUL- NEW DISTRICTS HEADED TO VIRGINIA HOUSE. AT LEAST ONE DEMOCRATIC SENATOR TO BE OUSTED.”
“The Republican redistricting bill creates a 6th majority-minority seat.”

After Ben’s first Facebook notice, I went to the live feed of the Virginia State Senate and watched as Sen. Saslaw, Sen. McEachin (“This is sneaky, this is underhanded, and it’s beneath the dignity of the Senate“), Sen. Marsden and Sen. Barker went ape**** on the Republicans for what they said was a totally underhanded, unconstitutional move that will utterly poison relations in the Virginia State Senate. The fact that Republicans pulled this underhanded maneuver while most people were focused on the inauguration and Democratic State Senator Marsh was out of town (for the inauguration) really says it all. Wow.

Once it passes the GOP-controlled House of Delegates, and assuming it gets signed by the Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, the Republicans’ attempt at gerrymandering would give them a potential 27-13 supermajority in the Senate — that’s how extreme it is. And normally, you’d expect somebody as partisan in his Republicanness as Virginia’s governor to welcome the bill with open arms. But so far, that’s not been happening — in fact, the governor and his staff seem to have been caught off-guard by this:

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MN GOP’s Photo ID Amendment Hits Minnesota Counties with Huge Costs Even As GOP Legislature Slashes Local Government Aid

6:40 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

First it was Rice County. Then it was Kittson County. Now, as BSP’s Sally Jo Sorensen notes, yet more parts of greater Minnesota are noticing the huge holes that the state Republicans’ “Photo ID” vote-restriction amendment would blow into their budgets –budgets that the Republicans controlling the state legislature are already hurting by slashing Local Government Aid:

In his September 1 editor’s column, Local silence on amendment issues troubling, St. Cloud Times editor Randy Krebs asks:

Speaking of laws, everyone knows that if the Voter ID amendment passes it is going to require more tax dollars as well as more local resources to conduct elections. Do local elected officials honestly think their state-level peers will pay those bills? Have they not watched how state aid to cities, higher education and other areas has dried up in recent sessions? Amid that trend, it’s obvious local jurisdictions have a huge interest in the outcome. So again, as leaders of the community, at least go public with a position.

Silence isn’t leadership, at least not in this election.

It’s a good point: the Republican caucuses now controlling the Minnesota legislature have been aggressive in cutting Local Government Aid for greater Minnesota.

Over in the northwestern Minnesota city of Detroit Lakes, Nathan Bowe, writing for DLOnline, the online arm of the local daily paper, lists all the hassles and headaches — including provisional balloting and the long lines and bogged-down vote counts that entails — and finishes up by describing the financial burden to the state’s taxpayers:
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So Hurling Acid at Women Is OK Now?

2:37 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

(photo: BartNJ/flickr)

Oh, the irony. Republicans, who love to go on and on and on about the alleged dangers of creeping Sharia law, particularly where women are concerned, seem to secretly envy and/or desire their perceptions of the very things they publicly attack:

A spokesman for Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) is facing criticism after advocating violence against female Democratic senators in a Facebook post.

Jay Townsend, the official campaign spokesman for the freshman representative, went on a vicious online rant on Saturday, which he began by taunting a constituent who voiced criticism about an earlier post on gas prices. “Listen to Tom. What a little bee he has in his bonnet. Buzz Buzz,” Townsend wrote.

“My question today… when is Tommy boy going to weigh in on all the Lilly Ledbetter hypocrites who claim to be fighting the War on Women? Let’s hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won’t abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector.”

As Think Progress points out, hurling acid at women is a classic method of anti-female subjugation:

Acid throwing is not a joke. It is a serious and horrific form of gender-based violence. Seventy two percent of the time, victims of acid throwing are women. In fact, an attack occurred in Pakistan just four days ago– two women and one two year-old child were injured.

This has ignited a firestorm through the political world. And Representative Hayworth’s office’s response? A non-response response where they didn’t actually address what Jay Townsend said.

That won’t cut it, not at all. In fact, it’s so inadequate a response that even some Republicans are aghast over it. Here’s Red State diarist Owen Kellogg, who writes as GISAP at Red State, on the situation: “Whatever the context of his comment, it’s going to be difficult to defend his suggestion that we ‘hurl acid at those female Democratic Senators.’”

No kidding.

Richard Grenell out as Mitt’s Token Openly Gay Dude

11:54 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Richard Grenell

Remember how, earlier this month, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to get a kinda-sort credit for being gay-friendly when he hired Roy Cohn Award recipient Richard Grenell to be his go-to guy for foreign policy?

Well, even a self-hating gay man was too much for the TheoCons who make up the GOP’s voter and volunteer base, so out he goes.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Grenell decided to resign after being kept under wraps during a time when national security issues, including the president’s ad concerning Osama bin Laden, had emerged front and center in the campaign.

Pieces in two conservative publications, the National Review and Daily Caller, reflected the uproar by some social conservatives over the appointment.

In the National Review, Matthew J. Franck wrote late last week: “Suppose Barack Obama comes out — as Grenell wishes he would — in favor of same-sex marriage in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. How fast and how publicly will Richard Grenell decamp from Romney to Obama?”

Remember, the National Review is supposedly the acme of level-headed conservative political thought and intellectual achievement. And this is what they think of Richard Grenell. If this is what they’re saying, imagine what the “values voters” are saying.

Buh-bye, Richard.

That Fine Republican Work Ethic: Minnesota Edition

7:10 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Oh, the poor babies!

Minnesota legislators are edging toward a historically early end to the legislative session, potentially ditching dozens of prized initiatives in their determination to head home and hit the campaign trail.

The race toward early adjournment is revealing a fresh divide among Republicans who control the Legislature: some who want to end this week and others who want to soldier on well into April to complete a more ambitious agenda — maybe even a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Legislators have much at stake in the session’s outcome, particularly as they face re-election in districts with newly redrawn political boundaries. If they get bogged down in controversial proposals, they risk alienating or angering voters. That has many arguing for a stripped-down agenda and a quick exit.

“As far as I am concerned, if we can block a whole bunch of spending in a bonding bill and get the photo ID bill done, that’s enough,” said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, who faces his first re-election.

In other words, Dapper Dave’s priorities are screwing over his constituents by denying them the needed infrastructure improvements a bonding bill would provide, and using the Kiffmeyer-ALEC Voter ID ballot initiative to make sure large numbers of his constituents won’t be able to vote after the upcoming November election. Nothing else matters, besides his getting re-elected.

Interestingly, Thompson was recently involved in what looked like a wee bit of legislative kabuki concerning an effort by Democratic lawmakers to amend a bill with the “ALEC ID” amendment, which would have forced influential groups like ALEC to be more forthcoming with how and who they influence. Check out this description of his behavior — it looks very much like he was waiting for amendment foe (and ALEC member) Kvetchin’ Gretchen Hoffman to let him know that there were enough “no” votes on the GOP side to kill the thing before he cast what would now be his second-to-last (and meaningless) “yes” vote.

But Dapper Dave Thompson’s not the only RPM legislator — or even the only RPM senator — with strange work habits. Check out this documentation of the work ethic, such as it is, of fellow Senator Mike Parry, who is vying with Theocon and Bachmann ally Allen Quist for the right to lose big to Tim Walz in MN-01 this November. (One of the videos at that link graces this post.)

You know, if working is just too darned hard for them, that could be fixed this November.

ALEC Ally “Minnesota Majority” Uses Racist Imagery to Sell Voter ID

8:42 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Earlier this month, I noted that CPAC, the premier political event for America’s conservatives, had not one but two white-supremacist dipwads as honored guests and speakers. Today, I’m continuing a Minnesota-focused discussion of political bigotry in action, as practiced by ALEC’s Mary Kiffmeyer, her fellow Republicans and her conservative allies at Minnesota Majority.

Yup, it’s another Minnesota item for the ever-growing “They Say They’re Not Bigots, But” file I keep for Republicans and their conservative allies, and it goes like this:

On Monday morning, TakeAction Minnesota, along with State Representative Rena Moran (65A) held a press conference condemning racially-derogatory imagery being promoted on a pro-photo ID website run by Minnesota Majority. Organizers of the press conference say the online images on WeWantVoterID.com imply that African-Americans and Latinos are looking to cheat Minnesota’s elections system.

Dan McGrath, Executive Director of TakeAction Minnesota, one of the organizations leading the campaign against a photo ID amendment, took aim at the online message. “These images are racial-profiling of voters at its ugliest, designed to drive fear and racial division throughout Minnesota in order to help pass a photo ID amendment at the legislature and on the fall ballot. They’re wrong and they should be removed from public view immediately.”

The online banner depicts images of an African-American male dressed in a black-and-white-striped prison suit, and a person dressed in a blue mariachi costume, alongside other outlandish Halloween characters including a white-sheeted ghost, a ghoulish skeleton and a cartoon superhero. The online banner’s message reads “Voter Fraud: Watch How Easy It Is To Cheat In Minnesota’s Elections.”

State Representative Rena Moran, whose represents a racially-diverse district in St. Paul’s Frogtown, Near North End neighborhoods said she was “sickened” at the images and called the photo ID amendment they are attached to nothing less than a “21st century Jim Crow law.” Moran said she believes “those that seek to fan the flames of racial division and fear hurt Minnesotans who are already hurting too much. These images are nothing more than scare tactics used to make sure people of color are further marginalized from public life.”

A portion of the banner graphic appears at the top of this post. The person wearing the ghostly bedsheet is of course Minnesota Majority visual code for “spook”, meaning “Negro”. Taken with the black dude in prison stripes and the mariachi guy, that makes three racist references of varying subtlety. One could be written off as chance, two could be coincidence, but three? Three?! Hell, ESPN just fired a fellow for making one racist reference — and here we’ve got three crammed into one ad by a group that keeps insisting their motivations aren’t racist.

Somehow, I don’t think a professional ad or website design agency is responsible for this thing. A professional ad agency would have, unless ordered otherwise by their client, made sure to avoid any type of ethnic/racial references — instead of a white-sheeted “spook”, a mariachi guy, and a black guy in prison costume (and the wildcard zombie and the superhero-costumed entity thrown in for giggles), they’d all be trenchcoat-wearing spies along the lines of Mad magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy” cartoons.

But no. This is what MM wanted, this is what they got, and it’s racist dogwhistling to their base.

UPDATE: Bear in mind that the Voter ID proponents have a long history of bigotry and racism. Mary Kiffmeyer, ALEC’s point woman in Minnesota and who is in tight with her political allies at Minnesota Majority, once defended Minnesota Majority’s writings on “racial purity” thus: Read the rest of this entry →

None Dare Call Them Racist: GOP Fan Group CPAC Hosting White Nationalist VDARE Founder

12:23 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Yet another one for the “They Say They’re Not Bigots, But…” file:

Following speeches from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Michele Bachmann, CPAC is hosting the panel “The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity” with Peter Brimelow, the founder and head of VDARE.com.

VDARE is a White Nationalist website, run by Brimelow, which frequently publishes the works of anti-Semitic and racist writers and is named after Virginia Dare, who is believed to be the first child of English parents born in the Americas. Brimelow, an immigrant from Great Britain, expresses his fear of the loss of America’s white majority, blames non-white immigrants for social and economic problems and urges the Republican Party to give up on minority voters and focus on winning the white vote. He also said that a New York City subway is the same as an Immigration and Naturalization Service waiting room, “an underworld that is not just teeming but also almost entirely colored.”

Res ispa loquitor.

UPDATE: And guess what? Brimelow’s not the only white supremacist to be given an honored spot at CPAC. Robert Vandervoort, of ProEnglish and American Renaissance infamy, is there as well, cuddling up with the National Review‘s staff racist, John Derbyshire.

South Carolina GOP Primary Turnouts, 2008 and 2012

8:46 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

While the 2012 Republican caucus and primary turnouts in Iowa and New Hampshire (121,503 and 248,485, respectively) weren’t substantially different from 2008 (119,188 and 234,851 respectively), particularly considering the population growth in both states over the past four years, South Carolina’s 2012 turnout — 600,421 with 99.5% of precincts reporting — is markedly higher, nearly 155,000 more than in 2008.

My take is that this was the result of the TheoCons (UPDATE: What I for a long time have been calling “the religio-racist right”) pulling out all the stops to keep Romney from sailing unimpeded to the nomination.

Next up: Florida, which could, if Newt wins it, lead to the mother of all brokered conventions.

(To be crossposted to Mercury Rising.)

Poor Mitch Berg: Still Clueless on Redistricting

12:19 pm in Politics by Phoenix Woman

(Mitch-as-parrot courtesy of Ken Avidor; leather paddle image courtesy of me.)

As Sally Jo Sorensen notes, Mitch Berg really is the best the local Minnesota conservative Republican blogging brigade has to offer. Honestly, he is.

Which is why it’s telling that Sorensen, without even breathing hard, can find that which is invisible to Berg — the presence of Republicans on the Citizens’ Commission on Redistricting:

Having failed to find more than one  Republican on the Commission, Berg quite logically concludes that Draw the Line Minnesota has constructed nothing but a progressive Potemkin Village in Citizens’ Commission. Fair enough based on the research he presents.

But given Berg’s completely solid credentials as a blogger and researcher, it’s a bit puzzling that he missed spotting Kent Kaiser.  Having enlisted our Pretend Internet Boyfriend Mr. Google as unpaid intern on the prairie, we found a lot of connections between Professor Kaiser and Minnesota’s conservative Republicans.

Berg writes:

Kent Kaiser of St. Paul is a professor of communication at Northwestern College. Previously, he served as the communications and voter outreach director in the office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. While with the Secretary of State’s office, he serviced as liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau and on the boards of Kids Voting Minnesota and Kids Voting St. Paul.

Yet again – not a single political contribution found.

Since Berg uses criteria in addition to political contributions to assess other members of the commission, it’s fair to look beyond  contributions for evidence of Mr. Kaiser’s political leanings.

Mr. Google reports that Kaiser is a senior fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, where he’s been posting articles since 2009 or so. The bio on the latest article:

Kent Kaiser is an assistant professor of communication at Northwestern College in St. Paul, a Center of the American Experiment senior fellow, and a native of Silver Bay who formerly served as communications and voter outreach director for Minnesota Secretaries of State Mary Kiffmeyer, a Republican, and Mark Ritchie, a DFLer.

Kaiser was brought into the SOS office by Kiffmeyer and stayed trough the beginning of Ritchie’s first term. His much publicized report, No Longer A National Model: Fifteen Recommendations for Fixing Minnesota Election Law and Practice, was published by the CAE in 2009.

Go read the whole thing. Sorensen doesn’t merely take down Berg; she smacks his bottom with the “OUCH” paddle.