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Eureka

"Boss, I think I’ve got it!"

”%$#@! Do you know what time it is?”

"Sorry, boss. I couldn’t sleep. It just came to me! THE solution! It’s so SIMPLE! It works all day! I tell you, it’s GENIUS!"

"That’s what you boys down in Skunkworks said about the last brainstorm you morons had, Finley, remember? Total gridlock his entire first term, and there’s no way Obama wins a second chance, right? And the Dems lose the Senate in the bargain. Isn’t that what you told me?  Guaranteed. Look where that one got us."

"Okay, so that was a mistake, I admit it. But this one is different."

"We damn near lost the company on that one, Finley. The Republican Party is Evil Science Labs biggest client, and to say they’re not happy is an understatement. If we lose them what’ve we got? Venezuela, with Chavez in a coma. Assad’s hanging by a thread and Morsi’s completely losing it in Egypt. After that fiasco in Libya we almost had to pack up our tents. If we lose the GOP we’re about three minutes from bankruptcy."

"I’m telling you, boss, this is the BIG ONE, the one we’ve been waiting for!"

"Right. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t total opposition to immigration reform, gay rights and contraception your last big unbeatable idea?"

"A minor miscalculation."

"Well, there’s no way I’m going back to sleep now. Might as well tell me your latest brilliant scheme."

"Okay, follow me, now. The states can allocate their electoral votes any way they want, right?"

"Yeah, so?"

"For most of them it’s winner take all, but a couple assign them proportionally."

"I got you so far."

"Okay, here’s where it gets interesting. Nebraska and Maine give each congressional district an electoral vote. In other words, if a candidate for president wins a specific congressional district, he gets that electoral vote."

"So what?"

"Don’t you see? If we did this in states like Virginia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which Obama won, Romney would have taken the majority of electoral votes!"

"Huh. How is that possible?"

"Because the congressional districts are gerrymandered like crazy. There are more safe Republican congressional seats than Democratic, even though more people voted for Democrats. That’s how the GOP kept the House even though House Republicans lost the popular vote by a landslide.

"And it gets even better. Republicans control both houses and the governor’s mansion in 24 states. If all of them changed to this system, we can virtually guarantee that Republicans never lose the presidency again!"

"Okay, Finley, I admit I’m interested."

"The genius of this is Republicans won’t even have to worry about moderating their image or going through the sickening charade of appealing to Hispanics and gays and women. No more embarrassing soul-searching or self-reflection. They can continue being the party of out-of-touch white men forever, boss! They win even when they lose!"

"I’m warming to it, but let me play devils advocate here. Isn’t there a risk people will be so angry at what appears to be a raw power grab the whole thing could backfire? You, know, protest, take to the streets, get violent? And Republicans could be blamed for the unrest."

"Listen, boss. Republicans keep the House no matter how much they lose the popular vote, and nobody squawks. We’re just applying the same system to the presidency. Oh, sure, there might be some grousing, but they’ll get used to it. We’re talking about fat, lazy Americans here, not Egyptians."

"Hmmm. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I like it. I think you may be on to something."

"This one’s a winner, boss. I can feel it."

"Let’s say you’re right. That takes care of the House and the presidency. What about the Senate?"

"We’re working on it."

What Went Wrong?

Last week a group of Republican politicians and strategists met secretly in Washington for a high-level post-election debriefing. Yesterday, someone slipped a transcript of the meeting under my door.

Attending the meeting were Roger Ailes, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor.

Ailes: Gentlemen, are we all here? Where’s Mitt?

Cantor: That loser? He wasn’t invited. Not like he was ever really one of us.

Ryan: Hey, he’s a good guy. I got to know him pretty well during the campaign.

Cantor: Another loser heard from. You couldn’t even carry your home state.

Ryan: You want to step outside and say that?

Ailes: Cool it, both of you. Calm down, everyone.  You two can work that out next session. We’re here to figure out what went wrong.

Boehner: You should talk. Who was it that created the Fox bubble, anyway, Mr. Alternate Reality. Obama’s unpopular, the real issue is the deficit, Romney’s ahead in the polls, the Dems are gonna get trounced.

Gingrich: Yeah. As the historian in this crowd, I could have told you there’s no such thing as permanent majority.

Ryan: Hah! Didn’t YOU predict a Romney landslide, while you were on the Fox payroll?

Rove: Aren’t we getting a little off track here? Let’s face it, we underestimated Obama’s ground game. We had a lead, but they almost caught up with us in spending.

Cantor: Yeah, right. What did your $400 million win? Bupkus! And you want to piss away MORE?

Boehner: Shut up, Cantor. I had a grand bargain on the deficit in my hand, but you and your Tea Party loonies walked.

Norquist: You shut up, John. You would have caved on taxes, just to get a deal you could put your name on.  And now you’re making public statements like you’re trying to weasel out of the Pledge again.

McConnell: No deals! Not gonna happen on my watch.  Obama’s got to come to us.

Boehner: Screw you, Mitch. Did you happen notice who lost MORE seats in the Senate? I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t the Dems. At least I hung on to the House.

Ailes: Only because those seats are so gerrymandered you COULDN’T lose. Even that idiot Bachmann kept hers.

Gingrich: I think we’re missing the point here. We lost because the country is changing. There are more Latinos and Blacks, and that’s not going to change.  We lost their vote and women. Demographics is destiny, gentlemen.

McConnell: So what do you propose? Roll over and pander to them? Like Hell!

Cantor: Amnesty for illegals? MORE Medicaid and food stamps and unemployment insurance? Contraception for women? Admit that rape is a bad thing? Abortion? Are you nuts? Abandon everything this party stands for?

Boehner: A little compromise on some issues wouldn’t be a bad thing, necessarily. You moved to the middle during the election, didn’t you, Paul?

Ailes: Lied like a rug, not that it convinced anyone.

Gingrich: Wait. I have a brilliant idea!

Rove: You’re going to divorce Callista?

Gingrich: Shut up. We’re thinking about this all wrong. Who DID vote for us?

McConnell: White men.

Gingrich: Right. As the resident historian, I can tell you that when this Republic was founded, only white men were allowed to vote.

McConnell: Yeah, so? I don’t quite follow.

Boehner: There’s a surprise.

McConnell: Shut up.

Ailes: But that would require repealing the Emancipation Proclamation AND the 19th Amendment.

Cantor: That’s crazy! That would take years to work through the states, and you’d never get Blacks and women to vote for it.

Gingrich: Who’s talking about repeal? Get the Supreme Court to declare them both unconstitutional.

Ryan: How can an amendment be unconstitutional? That makes no sense. The Court can’t overturn an amendment, can it?

Gingrich: These are the same guys who declared corporations are people and money is speech. If they can do that, they can do this.

Cantor: It’s brilliant!

Boehner: Do you really think we count on them to do it?

Gingrich: Scalia will absolutely LOVE it. The originalist asked to reaffirm the Founders’ intent.  Done deal. Alito will fall in line, Kennedy’s on our side now. Thomas does anything Scalia says. I’m a little worried about Roberts, though, after the Obamacare ruling.

Ailes: He got beat up so bad for that one, I think he’ll fall back in line.

McConnell: I hate to bring this up, but isn’t Clarence Thomas Black?

Ryan: Now that you mention it, I think so. You wouldn’t know it from his rulings or the way he acts, but yeah, I’m pretty sure I remember him being Black when he was appointed.

Boehner: Hmm. That could be a problem. Would he vote to take away his own vote?

Cantor: Damn!

Ailes: I think we should at least feel him out. But we really ought to have a Plan B if this doesn’t work.

McConnell: Like what?

Ailes: You won’t like this, but we may actually have to reach out to minorities and women.

McConnell: I’m against it.

Boehner: Mitch, the whole idea stinks, but I think we have to. Let’s put Ryan to work on the women initiative.  They go for those big dreamy blue eyes of his. We’re going to have to give on immigration reform if we ever want the Latinos. We can put Rubio and Bush on that.

Cantor: I can’t believe we’re doing this.

Boehner: Art of the possible, Gentlemen. We do what we have to. Now for the really hard part: anyone here know any Black people?

(long silence)

Boehner: Anyone?

END OF TRANSCRIPT.

Liar, Liar

For a devout Catholic, Paul Ryan sure violates the eighth commandment a lot. His rousing speech last night at the RNC was so full of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies he’ll need to spend a week in the confessional after the convention is over.

It’s really too bad, because I was hoping that the guy who’s become the face of the Tea Party economic agenda would show himself to be the deep thinker and fresh presence that he’s been advertised as. Turns out, he’s just another hyper-partisan politician who’s learned not to blush when he’s telling the latest, biggest whopper. He can look you straight in the face with those big, sad baby blues and lie like the basset hound he somehow resembles.

Where to start? How about the big one he absolutely knows to be false, that Obama wants to cut Medicare benefits by $761 billion. Ryan knows that those are not cuts, but savings from payments to providers as a result of changes in Obamacare. Ryan included those very savings in his own budget, the one that the House passed earlier this year. Repealing Obamacare, as the Republicans have promised, will result in those savings being lost, making Ryan’s own budget more budget-busting than it already is, and Ryan knows it.

Then there’s the one about the plant closing in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin, which Ryan blamed on Obama’s broken promise to save it. Ryan knows full well that Obama was powerless to prevent its closing in December, 2008, while George W. bush was still in office. 

And those are just two of the more egregious lies in a speech chock full of them, a speech delivered on the heels of an entire day at the convention devoted to blasting Obama for things he never said in a video deliberately edited to misrepresent his remarks.

If the Republican candidates for the highest offices in the land are willing to distort history so thoroughly to make their case, to build their entire campaign on a web of falsehoods, what can we make of their promises? The Republicans once called themselves the Party of Ideas. Do we really want to put the Party of Lies in power?

THEY Built It

The theme of day one from the Republican National Convention was loud and clear: “We Built It” signs were everywhere in the hall, and speaker after speaker repeated the message in one form or another—that those of us who made it did it by the sweat of our own brows, we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps, without help from anyone, especially not from government. 

Sure you did. You built the schools you went to and paid the teachers yourself, you laid the sidewalks you walked on, you paved the roads you drove on, you kept your own communities crime-free all by yourself, you put out fires on your own, you made the air you breathed and the water you drank pure, you made your home and the buildings you worked in and the cars you drove in safe, without benefit of building codes or collision standards, you personally built the colleges and universities you attended, the libraries you studied in, without the help of taxpayers or alumni donors, when you got a job you personally negotiated the length of your workweek, workplace safety rules, your salary, your vacation time, your holidays and your retirement benefits. No labor movement came before you to secure those hard-won rights. Nobody else pooled their money with yours for your health insurance. No taxpayers are responsible for your military pension. The big, bad, over-reaching, intrusive government, other men and women with vision and a commitment to idea of the common good, built none of the world you take for granted, had no part in any of that. You did it all by yourself.

This was exactly the point President Obama was making in the speech that the “We Built It” slogan mocks. The RNC shamefully edited the president’s remarks to make it appear as though he said something he didn’t—that government, not the individual business owners, were responsible for building their businesses. Nobody at the convention seems the least troubled that the whole thing is based on a lie.

Just as disturbing as the colossal self-serving falsehood of total self-reliance is the barely-concealed racism and classism of the theme. We know, of course, who DIDN’T do it by themselves. Lazy blacks and hispanics and the poor, all those who took handouts they didn’t deserve from the taxpayers rather than work hard for what they got like WE did. Reagan’s welfare queen updated and repackaged to include those still looking for work in this endless recession, the ill and the injured who can’t work, the millions without health insurance, the working poor, the foreclosed, the simply unlucky. 

Most alarming of all is that the speakers actually seem to believe this nonsense—that turning away from the very social contract that made us a great, wealthy and powerful nation will somehow create a glittering future based on the triumphant ideal of every man for himself. God help us all, because we won’t be helping each other.

Mitt’s Veep

Now the far right is demanding that poor Mitt prove his bona fides as a true wingnut by selecting Rep. Paul Ryan, author of the extreme budget the Republican party has adopted, a budget so mean-spirited that even the American Catholic bishops have denounced it for savaging the safety net. Romney, a formerly sane Republican who in the past has made at least a modicum of sense and who has previously championed what used to be an acceptably moderate Republican agenda, has already bent over backwards disavowing virtually everything he used to believe in. This, of course, has not been enough for the Ridiculous Right, which will never trust Mitt not to be secretly sane.