Speaking of well-chosen words, check out how Michelle Obama turns a positive biographical sketch of herself and her husband, the leader of the free world, into a powerful rebuttal of the GOP squawking points:

Like so many American families, our families weren't asking for much.

They didn't begrudge anyone else's success or care that others had much more than they did...in fact, they admired it.

They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don't start out with much, if you work hard and do what you're supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids.

That's how they raised us...that's what we learned from their example.

We learned about dignity and decency &ndash that how hard you work matters more than how much you make...that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.

We learned about honesty and integrity &ndash that the truth matters...that you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules...and success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square.

We learned about gratitude and humility &ndash that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean...and we were taught to value everyone's contribution and treat everyone with respect.

Those are the values Barack and I &ndash and so many of you &ndash are trying to pass on to our own children.

That's who we are [Michelle Obama, speech to Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012].

The First Lady of the United States of America then proceeds to pound the living crap out of Mitt Romney and the Republican platform by tying those values perfectly to a proud policy reveille:

So when it comes to rebuilding our economy, Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother.

He's thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day's work.

That's why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work.

That's why he cut taxes for working families and small businesses and fought to get the auto industry back on its feet.

That's how he brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again &ndash jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs right here in the United States of America.

When it comes to the health of our families, Barack refused to listen to all those folks who told him to leave health reform for another day, another president.

He didn't care whether it was the easy thing to do politically &ndash that's not how he was raised &ndash he cared that it was the right thing to do.

He did it because he believes that here in America, our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine...our kids should be able to see a doctor when they're sick...and no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or illness.

And he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care...that's what my husband stands for [Michelle Obama, September 4, 2012].

Whatever 21st-century-average bounce Mitt Romney got last week just disappeared.

15 comments

Reading Brian C. Liss's "Suggestions for Conservative Activists" inspires to compose my own list... actually, just one suggestion for conservative activists: Don't listen to Brian C. Liss.

The retiring one-term Republican legislator from Sioux Falls gets airtime on Gordon Howie's Potemkin blogroll to offer what he calls "A Strategic Framework for Conservative Activists." But trust me: Liss offers no strategic framework. Liss offers the fantasies of a junior gamer thinking he is the next Alexander because he beat Caesar by building ironclads and forming an alliance with the Zulus in Civilization.

But let's survey the madness, in Liss's own words:

Our country's liberty and morality are deliberately being destroyed from within by Marxists and their "useful idiot" allies. If you are unfamiliar with Marxism, suffice it to say that in the souls of many there burns an infinite desire to order others about, and to punish those who do not comply. Add a veneer of compassion to this insanity and we call it liberalism or leftism or progressivism. This liberalism dominates the Democrats and has infiltrated the Republicans [Brian C. Liss, "Suggestions for Conservative Activists," The Right Side, 2012.07.31].

Infiltrated the Republicans... I guess that explains the anti-abortion legislation by which the SDGOP orders doctors and women about and punishes those who do not comply, all under the veneer of compassion.

I want to simply laugh at Liss, but his fascist paranoia becomes downright scary in his recommendation to "Remove Leftists from Positions of Power and Influence":

They have infiltrated our churches, schools, universities, governments, media outlets, and many influential professions. Practically any organization of significant size or influence that has not been specifically founded to be conservative will be targeted for takeover by leftists. Identify them and remove them [Liss, 2012.07.31].

Let's get clear on a couple things. I am a leftist. I have not infiltrated anything. I have worked in various public schools around South Dakota at the request of their duly elected local school boards. If there is a "targeted takeover," I haven't gotten the memo.

That's the stupid part. The scary part is the last two words: remove them. What kind of witch hunt is Liss after? I can see how conservative activists can remove leftists from elected government positions (run against them! vote them out!), but how is the typical activist supposed to remove people of political persuasions they don't like from their professions? Is Liss asking my conservative neighbors in Spearfish to lobby the school board to fire me without cause? Is he asking Brookings activists to conduct sit-ins at SDSU to prevent liberal professors from entering their classrooms? Is he urging his Sioux Falls neighbors to kidnap David Montgomery and keep him out of print? Is he urging right-wingnuts with employees to go Chick-Fil-A and fire all Democrats?

Brian C. Liss, Heinrich Himmler

Brian C. Liss, Heinrich Himmler... why am I hearing echoes?

Brian C. Liss seems to be calling for a political purge of education, media, government, and other professions to be listed at his whim later. That's not a strategic framework for activism; that's a pitch for a putsch.

If Liss's framework has any legs, he must not have used it in the Legislature, where he never got a bill past committee. He must not have used it in his referendum petition drive, which failed. He says he plans to use his framework to push a ballot measure "making it illegal for South Dakota's governments to deduct union dues from government workers' paychecks." He fails to recognize that federal and state law already protect paychecks from such predations.

Liss is a frustrated bumbler with delusions of grandeur. But Hitler and Himmler looked like flaccid bumblers as well before they really got going with their purge of scheming infiltrator scapegoats from the professional ranks.

I would dismiss Liss entirely. No one is going to take seriously a politician who says South Dakota's biggest political priority is the extermination of Marxist infiltrators... right? Right?

Paranoia and political scapegoating are diseases. As long as even a few fringe-oids like Liss sneeze their scare-tactics into the public air, we must continue neutralize their sickness with sunlight and scorn.

175 comments

Brad Ford is the worst writer in Gordon Howie's Potemkin-village blogroll. Howie and Ed Randazzo are permanently reality-challenged, but at least I can understand their primal screams of Guns, God, and Glory. Ford can't even craft a coherent argument.

Consider this morning his latest screed, "No to Online Sales Tax." Ford starts with Reagan... which usually indicates a conservative wannabe is pretending to be a Hollywood-trained grandfatherly voice of wisdom rather than a rhetorical nincompoop. He then drifts through the following points:

  1. Government needs more money, but it should spend less money.
  2. Sales tax may be charged at point of sale or point of delivery.
  3. It might be fair to let a New York tourist send sales tax on a purchase at Wall Drug back to New York.
  4. It's unfair to local businesses that online retailers don't have to pay sales tax.
  5. Local retailers are making big profits and should stop whining.
  6. Capitalism doesn't mean "leveling the playing field."
  7. Ford's church overbudgets to trick its parishioners into donating more... so government should get rid of unnecessary expenditures (no, really, Ford places these two ideas in one paragraph).
  8. Public libraries and due process are wastes of tax dollars.
  9. We need austerity; increased taxes hurt the economy and allow "vague 'redistribution' to who knows what kinds of liberal do-gooder programs."

I want to offer a coherent rebuttal to Ford's post, but I can respond coherently only as an English teacher: This post is an unrevised stream-of-consciousness regurgitation of osmosed radio-fog talking points that fails to develop a single clear thesis.

As I do Brad's work for him, the thesis I distill from his rant is that government (along with local retailers) is bad; therefore, tax-dodging and unfair tax enforcement are fine.

To excuse burping up all the ill-digested opinions gurgling in his gut, Ford unnecessarily embraces unfairness. Taxing online sales doesn't necessarily mean increasing government revenue or spending. We could tax online sales, access currently untouched economic activity, reduce the overall sales tax percentage, and thus lower the tax burden on consumers currently making up for online tax-dodgers. Or, instead of giving a break only to tech-savvy cheaters, we could ban sales tax altogether, clear a regressive tax from our books, and focus on making income and property tax more equitable.

Ford is utterly unaware that he's improperly fusing two separate policy debates. What we tax and how we tax it is one issue. What we spend our tax dollars on is another issue. We can have a fair and lively debate about what we want government to spend money on. But unless Ford is advocating anarchy (and his writing style suggests anarchy of thought), we know government is going to spend money on something, thus requiring a fair and enforceable system of taxation. To advocate unfair rules and unfair enforcement in taxation isn't just irresponsible writing; it's irresponsible citizenship.

13 comments

Rep. Kristi Noem continues the standard GOP sleight-of-mouth. As voters indicate their disapproval of the GOP's War on Women, South Dakota's lone Congresswoman tries to tell you that her votes against women's health care don't really matter:

Anyone who has turned on the TV, listened to the radio or read the news in the past few weeks has undoubtedly heard about the Republican Party's supposed War on Women. So many hours have been wasted on this topic that folks actually might think it's a real issue. It's not.

The truth is our nation's political leaders are using women as a means of manipulation to try to win an election. This means real issues are taking a back seat to a political sideshow. Instead of talking about how we are going to get Americans back to work or lower gas prices, talking heads on TV are bickering over whether being a stay-at-home-mom is an occupation [Rep. Kristi Noem, "Focus on Real Issues, Not Sideshows," that Sioux Falls paper, 2012.04.25].

Notice that, in classic Noem fashion, our Congresswoman can't talk about specifics. She doesn't address the bad policies that actually constitute the war on women's rights, like the abortion restrictions that Noem backed here in South Dakota to drive women into second-class citizenship. She doesn't address her efforts to make birth control harder to get. In this article, Noem never explains why women's issues don't matter; she just debates a label.

Let's take a look at some of the GOP legislation that might be considered part of the War on Women:

  • The Georgia House and Senate passed the "Women as Livestock Bill," an anti-abortion bill that earned its moniker after State Rep. Terry England compared pregnant women, carrying fetuses that had already died, to cows and pigs on his farm, saying that if the animals should have to deliver dead fetuses, so should women.
  • A proposed law in Arizona could force women to prove to their employers that they are not using birth control pills for pregnancy prevention -- or face termination.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker repealed his state's Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which permitted victims of workplace discrimination to seek damages in state courts. The bill was enacted in 2009 to address the tremendous gender gap in compensation in Wisconsin.
  • The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which would expand the reach of domestic violence programs, faces opposition in the U.S. Senate [Anika Rahman, "Mommy Wars: An Attempt to Disenfranchise Women," Huffington Post, 2012.04.26].

Personal health choices, freedom from employer interference with birth control, equal pay, protection from domestic violence... please tell us, Kristi, why those issues are sideshows.

I'd like to think there's an upside here. If Noem is declaring abortion a sideshow, maybe that means she'll tell her boss Speaker Boehner to keep the government out of uteri and finally focus on creating jobs and balancing the budget. But we know that's not the case. When Kristi thinks she can push her oppression of women for electoral gain, she and the GOP see abortion as a primary issue. But when women start pushing back and when Republicans realize they're losing on the issues, Kristi starts crying sideshow.

The GOP War on Women is real. If it is a sideshow, it is because it is the bait-and-switch perpetrated by Kristi Noem and the Tea Party class of 2010 who said they wanted to focus on the economy and getting government out of people's lives but instead of focused on all too literally inserting government into women's lives in the worst ways possible.

Related: The Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act on a 68-31 vote yesterday, with 15 Republicans setting a losing political fight aside and casting the correct vote. Senator Tim Johnson voted aye; Senator John Thune voted nay.

Also related: Noem's boss can't even provide some reasonable student debt relief without turning it into another ploy to take away more women's health care.

47 comments

Ann Romney made what is described as a rousing personal speech a day or two ago a Connecticut GOP dinner. Among her comments was the following statement about working women, which I can only conclude was a sheer cue card fumble... or evidence that she has not thought very hard about what she is saying:

Romney alluded to the fact that not all women can stay at home saying, "I love the fact that there are women out there who don't have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids. Thank goodness that we value those people too. And sometimes life isn't easy for any of us" [Andrew Kaczynski, "Ann Romney Seeks Sympathy in Stamford, Gets It," BuzzFeed: Politics, 2012.04.23].

I love the fact that there are women... who don't have a choice.... Readers, can you think of any way in which those words, as transcribed, can be interpreted positively?

While you, dear readers, hammer away at that nugget, I'd like to address a different passage from Ann Romney's address that strikes me as unbecoming a campaigner:

Romney told the audience at the Connecticut Republican Party's Prescott Bush Awards Dinner in Stamford of the exhausting nature of the campaign and the unfairness of the news cycle.

"It's such an emotionally draining thing that you go through. And the person that you're fighting for, that you love, that you cherish, you know that they are being maligned at times," Mrs. Romney said. "You know that they are being misrepresented at times and you know that they aren't getting the proper treatment at times" [Kaczynski, 201204.23].

I'll bet there are a lot of working women who would happily trade up to the Romneys' stress of having so much income ($21.7 million) that they could quit their jobs and travel the country talking to people about whatever they please. I'd take people talking smack about me in the press over not knowing if I can make the mortgage next month in an instant.

Spare me the plaintive cries over how "exhausting" it is to campaign. The Romneys as a family have made a choice (a choice very few people enjoy) to live in campaign mode for the last five years. The Romneys appear to be holding up just fine.

Real campaigners don't find this work exhausting. They thrive on it. They know they'll face opposition. They know they'll get hit with unfair attacks. True campaigners take the punches undaunted and hit back with truth and love for the fellow citizens they get to talk with and teach and be taught by.

Check your cue cards, Ann. Practice your speeches. And quit your whining.

28 comments

Dakota War College loves to dismiss any and all policy statements by George McGovern and anyone who shakes his hand by running this old photo of the former South Dakota Senator meeting with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro:

Fidel Castro and George McGovern, circa 1975

Fidel Castro and George McGovern, circa 1975

In running this photo, DWC continues a tradition of photographic ad hominem started by blog founder and owner, now Secretary of State's office flunky Pat Powers.

The good Catholic owner of Dakota War College might want to rethink this tactic, given this week's pic from Cuba:

Pope Benedict XVI and retired Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, March 28, 2012 (screen cap from BBC video)

Pope Benedict XVI and retired Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, March 28, 2012 (screen cap from BBC video)

Oh my. There's Pope Benedict XVI, not meeting with dissidents and religious freedom activists during his visit to Cuba. I assume Benedict's prayerful bow toward Fidel (and oh, the rich irony of the names here!) means that, if I accept DWC's propagandistic logic, I may now dismiss the Pope's statements on abortion, birth control, and any and all other policy pronouncements.

18 comments

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