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Sore Loser

My neighbor across the street thinks somebody died last night.

Let us pity Republican Straight White men. Their world is coming to an end. Some of them are in mourning. They feel it like a death in the family; Grandpa died last night.

Sometimes I wonder where we get these drama queens.

A week ago my neighbor’s yard sprouted half a dozen GOP yard signs – not pointed to drivers and pedestrians passing by, but aimed across at me. A person had to stand in front of his house to read them – Mike Pence for Indiana governor, Richard Mourdock (conception after rape is “God’s will”) for U.S. Senate, some guy for Congress now that we’ve been redistricted from the Democratic 1st to the Republican 4th. I even voted for one of his recommendations, a candidate for county commissioner. But all of them aimed at me, like I’m the enemy.

Late Monday night, after dark, I retrieved my Obama ’08 sign from the garage and pushed it into the front yard for the sake of passersby. I didn’t have a need to taunt that neighbor; the house next to his sprouted an Obama-Biden sign Monday morning, where there wasn’t one four years ago.

You can tell Indiana wasn’t a swing state this year; my old yard sign.

This morning, the day after the election, my right-wing neighbor took down all his signs but one. Then he lowered his flag to half staff.

I’ve chuckled about it ever since. He’s defiant in his defeat. He’s proud of his beliefs and he seems to want to make sure I know it.

I feel a little bit sad for him. I can empathize up to a point; if President Obama had been beaten last night, I’d definitely be depressed today. So I can understand my neighbor’s angst. I wouldn’t be happy either if I thought my country had made a disastrous choice. If Mitt Romney had won I’d have been just as convinced as my neighbor is that the USA was headed for doom.

The difference is that Romney represented plutocracy, rule by the rich, as opposed to democracy, where everybody gets to decide. If he had won, our country wouldn’t have changed that much; our TVs would be filled with corporate propaganda under Mittworld, just as they are in Obamaworld.

My poor neighbor seems to think we’ve now sold out to the Commies, which is the End of Life as We Know It.

But turn on your TV, pal; doesn’t the screen look just like yesterday, without the political ads? Same Microsoft, same car commercials, same Olive Garden.

What can ya do? Same shit, different day.

I enjoyed the era when Straight White men ruled the world – until I was 13 and saw Black kids water-cannoned on TV just for trying to go to school; and old Black women beaten over the head for trying to vote. I’m not nostalgic for those days anymore. The only people they were good for was Straight White men.

Today I’ve got another neighbor across the alley and down two doors; he’s Mexican. I don’t know whether he’s here legally or not. And I don’t care, except that by choosing to live here and buying his house, he contributes to the economy of my little village. Yes, he plays music I can’t understand when he’s working in his garage, but whoever said I’m supposed to get into his music? I doubt he’d get into mine, but that’s good; let there be many kinds of music.

Meanwhile in Wisconsin, voters just elected our first Lesbian Senator, Tammy Baldwin. Should we lower our flags over that?

(Associated Press)

Marriage equality won in Maine, in Maryland, in Minnesota, in Washington State; voters decided, for the first time, Gay marriage is cool. Is the nation supposed to mourn that? We don’t!

Daniel Noble, an Assistant U.S. Prosecutor in New York, married Ryan Fleenor last weekend; he’s an assistant priest at St. James’s, Madison Avenue. First they had a civil ceremony and then they went to church.

As Republican strategist Matthew Dowd put it last night, the GOP tried to sell us “Mad Men” in a “Modern Family” world. Should we all sing dirges now?

I’m not; I’m thrilled. But I acknowledge my neighbor’s sadness, even as I’m glad it’s him and not me.++

Romney Disqualified to Be President

The Romney scowl. (Saul Loeb/AFP-Getty)

Presidential Debate #1: Mitt Romney looks presidential while running roughshod over sleepy Barack Obama. Debate #2: The President wakes up and punches him out.

Result: Obama retook the momentum, but Romney gained more the first time than Obama gained back last night.

The election, just three weeks from now, will be close – a lot closer than it needed to be, because at the time of the first debate, the President was pulling away in all the swing states and Romney was fading into irrelevance, just like John McCain did in 2008.

Obama allowed Romney to roll him like a drunk in the gutter. I count that as an epic moral failure, because as Obama well knows, this election isn’t about him, it’s about us.

With America still recovering from a terrible recession, our future depends on who wins this election. If Romney wins, rule by the rich will replace rule by the people. If Obama wins, we still have a chance to create our own destiny, as individuals and as a nation. And as we go, so goes the world.

It’s a world in which the Taliban shoots a girl in the face for advocating female education.

May God forgive Barack Obama for that first debate. Jesus is our Savior, but the Lord depends on us today to get his message out about Love Thy Neighbor.

Obama let Jesus down, and billions of us mortals. He let down Malala, now in the hospital in London trying to recover from her wounds.

Romney of course is no friend of the Taliban – but he’s also no friend of Malala.

He’s “qualified” to be president as a former governor and businessman, but his positions (to the extent anyone can say what they are), his values and his personality disqualify him. Two weeks ago Obama was well on his way to proving that.

Romney believes in patriarchy. Why would he not, being a Mormon? Patriarchy is the basis of his religion.

He’s a nice guy; I’ve never met a Mormon who wasn’t. But the foundation of the “latter-day saints” is one man, lots of wives, lots of kids, and eventually the man will end up as a god on a distant star.

It’s unbelievable in every way. Mormons think sex is the way to salvation – heterosexual sex, that is. It’s why they give millions to defeat same-sex marriage.

As Romney said last night, he’s got “binders full of women.” That’s a Mormon man’s goal. (Plus getting rich.)

I don’t believe in a religious test for public office, and Mormons who are Democrats are free to run with me. Maybe I’ll vote for a Mormon someday – but I won’t vote for Romney, whose Catholic running-mate wants to ban all abortions, no matter what, and whose Republican platform declares that a fertilized egg is a human being with 14th Amendment rights to life, liberty and, as Chris Matthews loves to point out, property. (What, they’re doing real estate deals in the womb now?)

Romney says he supports exceptions to the abortion ban in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother. How many abortions do these exceptions account for, 5%?

What happens to the other 95% of women who feel they need an abortion?

I oppose abortion in principle, as an undesirable thing. But I completely believe in a woman’s right to choose. If she needs an abortion, I want her to be able to get one safely.

A lot of times, ethics and morality do not depend on good vs. evil, but on figuring out which is the lesser of two evils. Safe, legal abortion is the lesser of the two, because God didn’t put women on earth to be baby machines, for Mitt Romney or anyone else.

The Pope and the LDS church love to cite “natural law,” which states that women’s purpose is motherhood. But we’ve learned an awful lot of laws of nature since Aquinas popularized his notions of Plato’s philosophy in the 13th century.

We’ve learned what women can do, that they’re full human beings entitled to the same freedom as the penis-proud.

Abortion would be a lot less necessary is everyone had access to contraception. Yet Romney’s first order of business is de-funding Planned Parenthood.

To me that disqualifies him from being president. He’s a sexist pig, and these are the United States of America. We don’t do prejudice here, or take political contributions from bigots.

Romney takes them every day and says Thank You.

He politicized the death last month of the American ambassador to Libya – before his death was even confirmed. That disqualifies Mitt Romney.

I loved how Obama put him in his place about it last night. I’ve never seen a political staredown quite like that before.

This is the moment when Romney was certain he’d nailed Obama to the wall over the terrorist attack on Benghazi. Obama told him he had said the words “act of terror” the next day, and Romney wanted to get him “on the record” for what the governor thought was an outlandish claim. He stared at the President, then raised his eyebrows, like “Did I really catch you saying that?” When moderator Candy Crowley shot him down, Romney was left sputtering in disbelief. He clearly never bothered to learn the facts – after politicizing the assassination of a U.S. ambassador. (screen capture via MSNBC)

Romney wants the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer – and lies about it. That disqualifies him.

He says 47% of Americans “regard themselves as victims and refuse to take responsibility and care for their lives.” His running mate calls 30% of Americans “takers.” That disqualifies them both.

They’re anti-Gay bigots too, both of them. Maybe that’s why Romney won’t release his tax returns, afraid we’d see how much he gave to pass Proposition 8 in California. You know he didn’t sit on the sidelines; he gave money. He raised money for it from all his Mormon businessman friends. He’s a former bishop; they’re all such conformists they can’t say no to anything that will turn them into gods on a star.

(I must say I’m proud that Democrats have not raised the Mormon issue against the man. Let there be no religious test for public office. I only comment about it because it seems relevant in understanding Mitt Romney; Harry Reed is also a Mormon, and he favors same-sex marriage.)

Romney’s tax “plan” involves cutting Medicaid and shifting it to the states, which we all know will underfund it, thus harming the poor, disabled and elderly. It’s immoral; he disqualifies himself. He isn’t fit to be president.

He should try reading the actual Bible, not the Mormon counterfeit version. Jesus said, “It is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.” The entire prophetic tradition of the Hebrews demands justice for the poor – but Romney wants to make the poor poorer and then blame them for it.

He will run up the deficit and the national debt, after portraying himself as a savior who will cut the deficit and debt. Republicans always do this – while running up the national debt!

He’s a good salesman; he’s got nearly half the country believing him. But why on earth would we elect a financier, four short years after getting screwed by financiers?

Not only are they screwed, they smile about it. (Paul Fell/Artizans)

Romney enjoys threatening war with Iran. But no Romney has ever gone to war; his sons and grandsons won’t either. Going to war is something the “little people” do to indulge the fantasies and greed of the rich.

Romney wants more coal mining, and arranges photo-ops with miners ordered by their bosses to appear without pay. We’ve seen a remarkable increase in employer intimidation this election, but Romney has no problem whatever in cozying up to the dirtiest industry on earth. If it will get him elected, he favors lopping the tops off every mountain in Appalachia.

I guess he figures that when global warming renders God’s green earth uninhabitable, he’ll already be a god himself on a star somewhere.

Pollution is immoral, Mitt; you’ve disqualified yourself.

You’re a liar. God doesn’t think much of that either. Your campaign “isn’t going to be dictated to by fact-checkers.”

Steven Colbert predicted that truth will be replaced by “truthiness,” which George W. Bush was fond of too, and if you win, no one will ever be sure what the truth is again.

America’s existence depends on voting for what is moral, based on what is true. If you replace truth and morality with lies and immorality, we’ll never be the same.

That was the risk Obama – and his strategists – ran when he slept through the first debate. Thank God he woke up in time for the one last night.

We need America to be better than it is today, not worse, and that’s ultimately not a function of the employment rate; instead it’s a result of moral decisions by our leaders and our citizens.

Romney chooses immorality, and is disqualified.++

Mitt Pulls a Boner

There’s no need to stick a fork in him, since there never was any blood in him in the first place.

It’s been four days now since Mother Jones magazine published Mitt Romney’s comments at that $50,000-a-plate fundraiser last May in Boca Raton, Florida, in which he asserted that 47% of all Americans are freeloaders who consider themselves “victims,” take no responsibility for their lives and expect the government to give them “free health care, free housing, free food, you name it.”

Poor little rich boy, with his 12% tax rate (in 2010; no one knows about the past) and $77,000 deduction for his wife’s dancing horse. He resents every police officer, firefighter, military veteran and active duty soldier, teacher, social worker, waitress, desk clerk, retail employee and factory worker, as well as every retiree, orphan and disabled person scraping by on Social Security, because they “pay no income taxes.” The horror of it all!

I’ve got news for you, pal. Everyone who works for a paycheck and gets Federal taxes deducted is paying income tax – along with FICA and Medicare.

While the media bleats about “payroll taxes,” those are income taxes. You make some income, you pay some tax. That’s how it works. Those are income taxes.

Every worker in this country pays income taxes.

True, they may get some of it back at the end of the year, but they’re paying income taxes. Believe me, the Federal government appreciates the float.

I’ve never gotten all of mine back, nor do I know anyone who has. Most people are glad to get a little refund on April 15, on what they paid in income tax.

Romney insulted half of America in front of his rich friends.

Meanwhile, I’m really disappointed in Howard Fineman (Huffington Post) and the rest of the pundits on MSNBC. They’ve been all over Romney for his idiotic remarks, but they won’t come out and tell the truth, which is that he’s just lost the election. It’s over. He’s done.

Fineman’s just covering his ass.

There’s nothing fine about Howard Fineman. The man needs a haircut in more ways than one.

“Oh,” the pundits say, “there’s a lot of time left, the debates are coming up, we could have a foreign crisis, this is way too soon to make a call.”

They won’t, but I will: President Obama will be re-elected this November.

Does anyone expect Mitt Romney to have a strong debate performance? He can’t even run a respectable campaign. He thinks the rich are supporting the middle class, when it’s the other way around!

Republican pundits know this election is over; but the Democrats profess to worry. And while some of this is strategic perhaps – people do still have to vote, after all, and that’s 50 days away – they end up not telling the truth, when the only reason they’re on TV is to tell the truth.

As a former reporter I understand the impulse to hem and haw. No one likes making a public mistake and having to eat crow. It’s a lesson reporters only learn by making public mistakes, and doing it often enough that by the time they’re Fineman’s age, you couldn’t drag them out on a limb. But they end up looking foolish anyway.

By pronouncing the presidential race over early, they could talk about the U.S. Senate instead. I think the Democrats will pick up a few seats, which will strengthen Obama’s hand in his second term. I think Maine will flip, that Angus King, the independent former governor, will win and caucus with the Democrats. I think Missouri’s going for Claire McCaskill. I think Tammy Baldwin could win in Wisconsin. Elizabeth Warren has pulled out to a lead in Massachusetts.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is sinking millions into trying to defeat former Gov. Angus King, but Mainers are an independent bunch.

Romney’s bonehead remarks will drag down Republicans in the House, too, maybe not enough to yield control to the Democrats, but the Tea Party is running out of tea. Republicans won’t be partying come November.

Here’s what’s happened. Romney isn’t ready for prime time and everyone knows it. He’ll still get millions of votes and carry some states, but he has proved himself incapable of governing the country, since he can’t even run a campaign. He isn’t ready to be Commander-in-Chief. Obama will win the military vote; he’ll win veterans.

Between now and Election Day attention will shift to the down-ballot races, those governors, senators and House races, and Republicans will find their candidates are too conservative. They have the Tea Party to thank for that, and after the election there will be a bloodletting.

I’ll be curious to see if Richard Mourdock wins in Indiana. He’s the Toilet Paper guy who beat Sen. Dick Lugar in the primary, but now Mourdock’s in trouble. His opponent is a conservative Democrat, Joe Donnelly; he may have a shot. He isn’t very talented and he doesn’t stand for much, but at least he’s mainstream; Mourdock is not. Hoosiers are used to splitting their tickets. I’ll also be interested to see if John Gregg can pull an upset in the governor’s race; he’s folksy, a smalltown guy, and he’s likable. He needs a lot to break his way in the next two months, but as a former Speaker of the state House, he knows what he’s doing. It would be very important to LGBTs in Indiana if Gregg can come from behind over Rep. Mike Pence, who’s already announced his anti-Gay, “pro-family” witchhunt if he gets elected. Indiana Democrats are going to need a lot of money, but Romney and the Tea Party are certainly a cause for hope now.

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) compared the decision to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The bottom line: Romney’s going to depress turnout. That gives Democrats a chance to win.

Pay no attention to Fineman, he’s more worried about covering his hiney than covering the news. Obama’s got this one, and America will be safe for four more years.++

Even older Republicans have come to trust this man with foreign policy and the military. He killed off Osama bin Laden, and Mitt Romney did not.

How Romney Might Win

Benghazi, Libya on 9/11, in an orchestrated attack that cost Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans their lives.

Suppose Mitt Romney’s attack on President Obama in the midst of an escalating, deadly international crisis – widely characterized by pundits as the mistake of a floundering campaign – was instead part of a winning strategy?

He accused Obama of having apologized to the so-called protesters in Libya. This has been a consistent Romney theme on the campaign trail, that Obama apologizes to foreigners. Romney’s 2010 campaign preview book, which he supposedly wrote, is titled “No Apology.”

But those were no protesters in Libya, according to Rachel Maddow. They were the local affiliate of al Qaeda.

She says that stupid anti-Muslim hate video we’ve been hearing about had nothing to do with it. The attack took place on 9/11. (So did Romney’s criticism.)

I saw her Thursday show on Friday online. I was astonished. It was completely unlike what any other media outlet is saying. So far it hasn’t seeped out to other outlets. She wasn’t theorizing, she had facts. And a live report from Cairo.

Tonight we have almost 20 Muslim countries, from Tunis to Pakistan, protesting the United States, supposedly about the video – and their motivation may be true, even as their behavior has not been violent. But the result is now we’ve got “Muslims attacking and killing Americans.”

Who is Romney’s campaign target? Barack Hussein Obama.

According to polls, something like 40% of Republicans already claim to believe he’s a Muslim. Romney says he apologizes for America, and specifically did so in Libya. (This is really a coded way of saying “he’s a traitor.”)

If this crisis continues to grow, it’s possible we could go to war. And all of a sudden we’ve got that “Muslim president” against a backdrop of Muslims using deadly force against us.

If things go wrong, Romney could win in a landslide.

Consider: for years now we’ve had a “birther” movement, kicked up by the Tea Party and Donald Trump. Romney himself added to it in his hometown Detroit the other day. The pundits say he was telling a joke. The pundits say the birthers are loony tunes, a wacko fringe.

But no, they may be missing the point. Republican officials in Arizona and Kansas have made moves to kick Obama off the ballot, since there are “questions” about whether he’s a citizen.

This may be part of a master strategy, cooked up by Karl Rove and other strategists, to make America terrified of its president. And remember, it’s all backed by a billion dollars from Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers, the oil companies and other ultra-conservatives.

The prime minister of Israel recently took Obama to task for not drawing a “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program, which Israel feels very threatened by. This was just a few weeks after Romney, with Adelson in tow, went to Israel and sucked up to every conservative Jew he could find.

It only takes one mention of Israel to swing America’s Christian fundamentalists to his side. These so-called Christians are 100% for Israel (and many are anti-Muslim) because they think it will bring Jesus back for the so-called Rapture.

It all fits together now. I’m no conspiracy theorist, and don’t take my word for any of this. But if it is Romney’s long-range strategy (remember his 2010 book), it sure could work. Pat Robertson, the oil companies and the Catholic bishops could use a Mormon to take over the United States.

What would a Romney presidency be like?

“Out” with birth control, abortion and Gay people. They’re not above portraying us all as a vast left-wing secret Muslim conspiracy. Get Americans whipped up with anti-Muslim, pro-Christian fervor and Gay people easily become scapegoated more than we already are.

“In” with encouraging women to quit their jobs (“it would solve unemployment right there”), stay home and be mothers.

“In” with war in Iran. “In” with anything Israel wants. “In” with a fundamentalist Christian or two on the Supreme Court.

Liberal churches could be targeted too. Will the Feds come and shut down my parish church?

All liberals would be silenced as Muslim sympathizers.

It’s the perfect scenario for a fascist takeover. And I wouldn’t put it past Karl Rove.

Go watch Rachel’s Thursday show. Then feel free to tell me I’m wrong. I hope I am!

Meanwhile to be on the safe side, make sure you have a passport and it’s up to date. Millions may have to leave behind everything and flee.++

If you don’t have one, order it while you can.

Clinton Gives America Permission to Vote for Obama

(Doug Mills/The New York Times)

ONCE upon a time, a-w-a-y back in the day according to the oldtimers, endorsements made a difference in who got elected or defeated. If The Cincinnati Enquirer said to vote for Guy Guckenberger, then by golly, that’s what you did. I voted for Guckenberger, a liberal Republican, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. ‘Cause they knew him, and I knew them, and if they said he was okay, he probably was.

And then there came another day when endorsements didn’t mean squat. They became commonplace, weak, they stopped having influence. Nobody paid attention anymore; the Manchester Union-Leader didn’t necessarily know better than you did, they gave their endorsement to whoever they thought would make them more money. The morning paper was all for the war, but you knew the war was a terrible loser that didn’t accomplish anything but killing innocent people, from the gooks to the kid down the street, and if the paper was for Nixon you voted for anyone but.

It took awhile, but eventually Nixon’s head exploded, which could have been entertaining except it wasn’t, it was awful for the country to get lied to that way. People trusted him but he screwed them over. It was an honor to be on Nixon’s enemies list. If you were an enemy of Nixon you were a friend of the country.

Harold Stassen ran for president but nobody noticed. He only did it to get his name in the paper, and eventually even that stopped working. Three lines on page 26: “Stassen Not Dead Yet, Apparently.”

“Woman Says She Saw Stassen by the Frozen Foods.”

“Stassen Hasn’t Lived Here Since 1946.”

“Old Xerox Machine Wakes Up Every 4 Years and Says It’s Harold Stassen.”

In fact, the last political endorsement of any stature, the last one that actually changed things, came in 1968 when the governor of Maryland switched sides. Ooh, headlines! History changed course; this is true, now, so pay attention: “Agnew Annoyed by Rockefeller ‘Snub,’ Backs Nixon Instead.”

Spiro Agnew ended up vice-president of the United States under Richard Nixon because of a well-timed endorsement. And though he finally resigned in disgrace just a few months before Nixon did (hello, sacrificial lamb), the endorsement game hasn’t been the same since.

“No One Gives a Damn What Spiro Agnew Thinks.”

… until last night.

Now when I say President Clinton gave Americans “permission,” I mean this in a positive way. He’s not the national study hall monitor who allows or withholds his okay to take a  break in the john. No one needs him to do that; we’re grownups.

Instead his “permission” opened up a new way of thinking; he made acceptable what previously was forbidden. He recognized a new freedom; he widened the space of the American mind.

Bill Clinton, in a rousing, raucous stemwinder of a speech, told America it’s okay to like Barack Obama.

That he’s a good guy, it’s okay to vote for him, give him four more years, we know him now, it’ll be all right.

Yes, even though he’s Black. And a Muslim socialist whatever. He’s okay. Better than the other guy, a Democrat like me, and Hillary’s for him too, so just go ahead, he won’t mess things up too much, it’s okay. Pretty wife too, nice woman, lovely daughters.

“Cool on the outside, but he burns with passion for America on the inside.”

Which is true – damn true – and everybody knows it, but we needed to hear it from someone else before we believed it.

We needed to hear it from him, Bill Clinton. President Elvis.

He speaks so well, with such utter reasonableness and a Southern accent too, that you can’t help but like the guy. You may not trust him – do NOT leave him alone with a woman – but you can’t help but like him. He’s just “got it.” Talent, brains, ambition – a heart.

And that’s what Americans are looking for, somebody who’s got a heart.

I mean, presidents come and go, and four years from now America will still be here, and the devil you know is probably better than the devil you don’t, so pull it for Barack this November and walk out proud, with one of those little stickers, “I VOTED.”

The Good Ol’ Boy said Barack’s the one, so even though you have never in your life known anyone named Barack, you can trust him. He’s okay. Lives two blocks over, solid citizen, nice wife. “I’m voting for him.”

Okay, Bubba. Good to see you again. Take care now, hear? Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

President Clinton endorsed President Obama last night, and I think it will be enough to carry the election.

There’s always the chance of an October surprise, but anyone who tuned in to the Clinton speech last night knows, that boy was born to be a rock star.

Here is the picture that tells you a thousand words.++

Nation Shrugs at Romney-Ryan Lies; What’s One More, Anyway?

Which one is Dip? I say it’s the blond. (Meghan Sinclair for TBS)


The New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote a hand-wringing column today, “The GOP Fact Vacuum,” trying to point out in just a thousand words that vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, like Burger King, is the Home of the Whopper.

(Not that way, you nasty boy.)

I like Blow’s work, though I miss Bob Herbert and Frank Rich, former Times columnists. But today’s article bothered me a little, because of what it didn’t say, not what it did.

So I left a reply, which has received 129 “likes” so far, one of my more successful efforts of late. (Perspective: other commenters got hundreds more.)

I wrote:

I respect this column, but my frustration rose when Mr. Blow began his series of questions, e.g., “What does this portend for the republic? I worry deeply about this…”

The columnist’s job here is to answer the questions, not just ask them. But since he didn’t, I will. What this “portends” is that the truth no longer matters; a politician’s lies go through the same entertainment filter as a starlet’s latest arrest. It’s all showbiz; why not have Rush Limbaugh blaming Obama for Hurricane Isaac or Clint Eastwood talking to a chair? “Can you believe what that Akin guy said?” is the same as “Can you believe what the Kardashians are up to now?” There’s a reason HuffPo puts politicians right next to celebs and cute cat pictures. It’s all about clicks.

Truth doesn’t matter anymore. Some people will vote GOP just to see pix of Romney’s handsome sons for the next four years. Jon Stewart can’t get over how “cute” Paul Ryan is; so was Sarah Palin, and when that went south Levi Johnston took off his clothes.

Apathy combines with powerlessness to hand the billionaires a golden opportunity. Democracy is dying and plutocracy will replace it. Sure, we’ll still have elections and wave flags, but the masses gave up their power the day they traded commercials for free entertainment. Someone’s already Photoshopped Chip, Bip, Grip, Whip & Dip Romney onto some naked guys; Arianna’s already got a slideshow in the hard drive.

I am guessing that the precipitants to today’s era of “truthiness” are first, the mic’ed-up, little-challenged “birthers,” and second, George W. Bush’s claims that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, which was an article of faith to the corporate media (including The Times) after 9/11.

But there are so many other lies one could cite that I’m not betting a nickel. You could just as easily refer to ex-Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho): “I’m not gay, and I don’t cruise, and I don’t hit on men. […] I don’t go around anywhere hitting on men, and by God, if I did, I wouldn’t do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!”

I wouldn’t do it in Boise, either, so that part might have been the truth, except when he was cruising guys in sporting goods stores.

He was arrested on June 11, 2007. Despite his guilty plea he was allowed by his Senate colleagues and the people of Idaho to serve out the remainder of his term and didn’t leave office until January 3, 2009.

I would rather not sound like a prophet of doom; people vilified Cassandra even after they found out she was right.

But I do think this election is America’s last chance to save its democracy – that if Chip, Bip and Dip’s dad wins, we tip over into Rule by the Rich, if not psuedo-Christian fascism – and that the best way to prevent that and preserve the rule of law is to do to the greedy, selfish, sinful ideology of Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, Rand Paul and Paul Ryan what Lyndon Johnson did to Barry Goldwater: bury him in a landslide.

But here I sit this Labor Day weekend, and supposedly the polls are tied. No wonder Charles Blow is wringing his hands, asking questions and afraid of the answers.++

LBJ giving Sen. Richard Russell, his mentor, The Treatment: “Whaddayou mean you ain’t doin’ it, boy? Don’t you know I’m the Pres’dent of these United States?”

The Polls Are Tight, but the GOP Is Collapsing

“I just love a man in magic underwear.”

Does anybody get what’s happening to the Republican Party? Superficially they look okay – Mitt Romney’s getting ready for his coronation next week in Tampa, and he’s not far behind in the polls – but the reality is the party is falling apart. And this has been apparent for some time now.

The clearest indication was last winter as the primaries got started. They had a bunch of cartoon characters running for president – remember Herman Cain? – but this has been going on for years. Michelle Bachmann always reminded me of that former secretary of state of Florida, Katherine Harris, who liked to do remote stand-up interviews on TV (“Hannity and Colmes”) in profile so men could see her breasts. She ran the worst campaign imaginable for the U.S. Senate in 2006 – then when she’d get in trouble she’d just make stuff up:

In late August, Harris lost another key staffer, Rhyan Metzler, in the wake of a disastrous political rally at Orlando Executive Airport. Only 40 people showed up for the event, and Harris blamed the paltry turnout in part on a last-minute change in location. She claimed that a tree fell on the hangar that was originally scheduled to hold the rally, forcing her campaign to switch to another hangar. Airport officials, however, stated that not only had no trees fallen, but also that there are no trees as they get in the way of the airplanes; further adding that the event in fact took place in the hangar that Harris’s campaign had originally booked. Harris’s campaign blamed Metzler for the comments Harris made after the rally. (Wikipedia)

Remember Christine O’Donnell of Delaware, running for Senate in 2010? She had to go on TV and tell the world, “I am not a witch.”

Spouting off earlier today on CNN; Phyllis Diller’s ghost would have made more sense. And been funnier.

Now we’ve got Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, yet another GOP Senate candidate, saying he “misspoke” about “legitimate rape” last weekend. He opposes abortion for any reason, including rape, incest and the life of the mother, and he got caught telling a TV interviewer that when a woman’s raped, her body can “shut that down.” And therefore she doesn’t get pregnant, and therefore there’s no need for a rape exception while men like him try to make abortion illegal.

“If it was a legitimate rape,” Akin said – as opposed to what, a phony one?

Indiana has Richard Mourdock, the state treasurer, running for Senate this year; he ousted Richard Lugar, a Rhodes Scholar and the respected foreign policy leader of the U.S. Senate. The Indianapolis Star editorial board asked Mourdock for the solution to partisanship and polarization in Washington, and he answered, “More partisanship.” He’s one of those do-not-compromise Tea Party guys.

Seems more like do-not-resuscitate the Republican Party to me.

They have no candidates. They’re fresh out. When a political party runs out of candidates, it’s finished.

In the presidential primaries, the Republicans did everything they could think of to nominate someone besides Mitt Romney. No one wanted him. Michelle Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll a year ago – then sank like a mobster thrown into the East River. Herman Cain was going to be the savior – Newt Gingrich – Rick Perry, remember him? – Rick Santorum, who lost his last race in a landslide – Ron Paul, the author of racist newsletters and promoter of “Austrian economists” – there was no end to the “anyone but Romney” parade. So now they’re stuck with the last guy standing. And who did he pick for his vice-presidential nominee? Rep. Paul Ryan, co-sponsor of Todd Akin’s bill to overhaul the Hyde Amendment, which for 30 years has prevented government funding for abortion except in the case of rape.

Ryan, they say, is an “intellectual” who “really understands the budget.” But it isn’t true; his numbers don’t add up, he won’t say what tax loopholes he’d close while giving the rich another tax cut, and without that his budget increases the deficit, not decreases it.

Oh and by the way, no more Medicare, no more Pell Grants or food stamps, no Medicaid – but he’ll sure protect the military from any cuts, even though the United States spends more on “defense” than the next 60 nations combined.

This stuff’s just weird. But the media and the big thinkers don’t seem to get what’s going on.

The old professional Republicans are caught between two monsters they unleashed – unlimited campaign contributions, which allow billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers to control the candidates and the agenda, and a Tea Party that’s full of extremists.

When even Dick Lugar goes down, there’s no hope for the old Republican Party. Meanwhile, the Democrats are barely hanging on themselves, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re next.

Remember when Bobby Jindal was going to be the GOP savior? He didn’t make it past one disastrous appearance on TV. Or Marco Rubio? He lied about his résumé, how his parents got to Florida from Cuba. Chris Christie? He can’t open his mouth without ticking people off. (And he’s got a scandal on his hands with private prisons.)

Who else do they have? Ohio Sen. Rob Portman was the logical veep choice for Romney – Ohio’s a big swing state – but Portman would have put everyone to sleep, when that’s Romney’s only specialty.

So he picked Ryan, hoping for another Palin-style “game-changer.” You remember her, right? The one who reads so many newspapers and magazines she can’t name any of them?

Palin is proof this has been going on for some time now. The GOP is out of candidates. They not only don’t have a bench, they don’t have a starting lineup.

This is the perfect time for a fresh face to replace Todd Akin in Missouri.

I know this sounds strange, because other people aren’t saying it much yet, but the United States is trading democracy for government by the rich. And it’s not just individuals like Adelson and the Koch Brothers, or Karl Rove and Dick Armey; it’s the corporations and Wall Street, it’s Facebook and Google. Without them Romney would be tying his dog to the car roof and heading for Canada again.

They know where you are, who you are and what you think, 24/7. Thanks to that tracking device in your pocket or purse, the GOP marketing machine can tailor an ad just for you.

We’ve signed away our privacy rights because our toys are entertaining. The ballot box is our last, most sacred private place – but it’s not private anymore either, and that’s assuming you’re allowed to cast a ballot. All over the nation Republicans have led efforts to restrict ballot access. They don’t want young people voting, or poor people, Blacks or Hispanics. Republicans now openly admit this; the sponsor of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law predicts Romney will carry the state now, and in Ohio election officials openly admit they’re not going to accommodate Black voters.

Imagine: the Republican Party’s only road to the White House is by openly suppressing the vote!

Do you hear outrage about this? Not really. Everyone’s too busy on their cell phones to notice.

The only cure for these trends is a Democratic landslide. But that doesn’t look at all likely.

If it were to happen, the professional Republicans would retake control of their party, by attributing their defeat to the Tea Party. They’d have to find a way to stick that genie back in the bottle.

If President Obama squeaks by this year, and maybe hangs onto the Senate thanks to Todd Akin, nothing much will change, which is really bad for the country. There’s a reason Rush Limbaugh said four years ago he wants this president to fail; it’s because Republicans don’t know what else to do!

My sense is that Democrats are even more clueless about the 24-hour news cycle than Republicans are. They still think Twitter’s something you post statements to and raise money on, instead of a giant loudspeaker that magnifies every half-witted criticism – or bold-faced lie – someone makes.

All politicians have thick skins, but they need rhinoceros hides these days. Obama has been too fearful of criticism and too cautious, and we’re paying the price for it; unemployment lingers because he can’t stand not being loved.

President Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Obama can’t stand the heat, but he won’t leave the kitchen either. The government is paralyzed. And the people are too busy texting to notice.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but the world is becoming a more dangerous place, and our military won’t be able to protect us from it. Our enemies are internal and work in skyscrapers.

If America stops functioning, what’s to become of the world? Europe is teetering, the Chinese are still paranoid and authoritarian; where will leadership come from?

Congress recently voted down a bill to protect our electronic infrastructure. You’d think Republicans and Democrats could agree that the internet and our computer systems are worth protecting. But no – even though everything we do as an advanced nation depends on those computers.

If you want to attack the banking system – the electrical grid – planes, trains, highways – shipping – communications – you don’t need to shoot down satellites à la “Star Wars.” Just get a bunch of hackers together. In a sense, the future belongs to this guy or someone like him:

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks (AP)

Assange himself, holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, is screwed. But there are surely thousands like him, waiting to bring down “the great Satan.”

The professional Republicans have long since sold their souls to the devil; here’s a picture of the transaction.

This year Texas Republicans have forbidden their schools to teach “critical thinking skills.” Logic might lead a person to doubt God, or do something about global warming, or even let Gay people get married.

The end result is that Republican candidates now think a raped woman never gets pregnant.

America can certainly survive without the Republican Party, but it can’t afford to lose the Democrats too. Yet here’s a picture that looks a lot like the one of Reagan and Falwell.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Sen. Charles Schumer. (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Those two both represent Wall Street, and Democrats need money too or they won’t win elections.

Is there a silver lining to all these clouds? I don’t really see one, but I notice that Sen. Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) was the first GOPper to call for Akin to resign from his campaign. Brown is afraid that anti-abortion insanity will make him lose to this woman.

God forbid anyone calls her a savior, but she’s the only one I see with a chance to help turn things around.

I’ll give the Democrats this, they do have candidates. They haven’t entirely sold out. But they’re going to have to do a much better job of rallying and governing the country, or I’m afraid we’ll just watch it slip away on YouTube – then wake up one day and wonder why there’s no electricity. Or banking, or transportation, or anything.

If that ever happens, the next thing to go is the food supply. If that goes, expect the Army on every corner. They’ll be reluctant, but they won’t have a choice.++