At a campaign fundraiser last week, Tea Party Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) warned attendees that President Obama would commit treason if reelected in November.
Fitzpatrick was listing the reasons why voters should not support the President, and for reason number three, he told the audience that President Obama would have no qualms auctioning off state secrets to foreign countries.
“When he left the microphone on in Russia, we all heard what he said … left unrestrained, without the inhibitions of the next election — he’d have flexibility, he said, flexibility to do what he wants to do. Whether it’s trade away … the secrets of our national intelligence, to, what he could do to the United States Supreme Court in the next four years.”
Watch it (the remarks begin at around the 4 minute mark):
Selling state secrets is treason — a capital offense, punishable by death. Accusing the president of conspiring to commit treason is a stretch, even by Tea Party standards. Fitzpatrick was extrapolating wildly from an off-the-cuff remark made by President Obama to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that was captured by a TV network’s microphone.
Ironically, it’s Fitzgerald who has run into some constitutional hot water. He and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) failed to be sworn into office last January before casting votes on the house floor, a move that Republicans had to scramble to fix by passing a resolution.
Like Sisyphus and his boulder, the task of convincing skeptical Republicans that President Obama is indeed an American citizen is a daily struggle.
A full year after Obama released his birth certificate, a significant number of Republican officials across the country still are unable to disavow themselves of the notion that the president was not born in this country.
This week, a leading Republican candidate in one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country revealed himself as the newest member of the birther club. Richard Hudson, a former congressional chief of staff, told a Tea Party in Salisbury on Tuesday that “there’s no question President Obama’s hiding something on his citizenship.” Hudson, “the frontrunner for the GOP nomination” in North Carolina’s 8th congressional district according to Roll Call, also pledged that if elected he would introduce legislation “that requires any candidate for president or vice president to be certified by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as being a citizen.”
HUDSON: There’s no question President Obama’s hiding something on his citizenship. If you elect me to Congress to represent you, I’ll introduce legislation that requires any candidate for president or vice president to be certified by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as being a citizen. Whether that’s a birth certificate or whatever it means, I’m going to make real simple from now on if you want to run for president, you’re need to know you’re going to have to prove you’re a citizen.
Hudson still faces four challengers in the May 8 GOP primary, but he has been endorsed by establishment figures in the state like Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and the wife of former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). Whoever emerges will enjoy a significant leg up against Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) after North Carolina Republicans gerrymanded congressional districts in their favor last year. Roll Call currently rates the race as Likely Republican.
Birtherism has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the past month as GOPers cater to the fringe of their base. Two members of Congress found themselves in hot water recently — Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) — after both pitched their tent in the birther camp during recent town hall meetings. In addition, embattled Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has led a quixotic birther investigation where he concluded that Obama’s birth certificate is a “forgery and fraud.”
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is preparing to run a flight of positive political ads in the commonwealth through his PAC. While this is no big deal for any politician ahead of an election, McDonnell is not facing an election and couldn’t run again for governor even if he wanted to because of term limits.
McDonnell is, however, a potential pick for the Republican vice presidential nominee, leading some tospeculate that the ad campaign is an attempt to make him more appealing to likely presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
As the Washington Post noted, McDonnell, who has been popular most of his term, has been facing trouble lately, making the ads seem like a clear ploy to boost his favorability. His approval rating is down at least five points from February, thanks to the legislature’s inability to pass a budget and the state’s infamous bill requiring women who want an abortion to be vaginally probed first.
Obviously, most people don’t “run for” the vice presidency, so this would be a highly unusual move by McDonnell. But it looks like he’ll need all the help he can get, if he does hope to be VP, as a CNN poll out today found that just 1 percent of Republicans want him to be second name on the ticket.
Earlier this year, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led a Republican effort to block renewal of the Violence Against Women Act because he objected to the fact that the reauthorization bill includes certain protections for LGBT individuals, undocumented immigrants and Native Americans. Grassley said that he would abandon this effort last night, however — likely because the reauthorization now has the supermajority of supporters it needs to defeat a Republican filibuster. Nevertheless, the bill must still survive the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, where it faces a much rougher ride, before its longstanding protections for domestic violence victims can be continued.
In light of these recent Republican efforts to hold some domestic violence survivors hostage to block protections for others, formerGov. Mitt Romney’s campaign was recently asked whether he supports including the protections for gay people, undocumented immigrants and Native Americans or not. Team Romney would not answer the question:
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Mr. Romney, said in an e-mail, “Gov. Romney supports the Violence Against Women Act and hopes it can be reauthorized without turning it into a political football.” But she declined to specify which version he supported.
As Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday, it is “inconceivable” that there is actually a debate over whether to protect domestic violence victims or not. It is equally inconceivable that anyone could deem some victims more worthy of protection than others. Romney, however, doesn’t seem willing to even go that far. He won’t even tell us which people caught in a horrific spiral of domestic violence deserve the law’s full protection against domestic violence.
Mitt Romney — who at an earlier point in his career had promised to advance the equality of gay and lesbian people — is scheduled to deliver the Commencement address at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University on May 12, an Evangelical Christian college that refuses to recognize people or ideas that don’t adhere to its social conservative worldview.
The university — founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1971 — seeks to impress on its students a “commitment to the Christian life” that “leads people to Jesus Christ as the Lord of the universe and their own personal Savior” and forbids openly gay enrollees. Students are required to abide by a strict Code of Conduct, which prohibits them from engaging in “[n]on-marital sexual relations,” drinking, smoking, watching R-rated movies, dancing, cursing or hugging for longer than three seconds. In 2009, the school attracted controversy after it revoked its recognition of a Democratic club, because “[t]he Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine.” The school condemned the party for supporting abortion rights, “same-sex marriage, hate crimes, LGBT rights, and socialism.”
Significantly, this isn’t the first time Romney has embraced conservative Christian Evangelicals in an effort to endear himself to Republican voters. In 2007, he addressed Regent University, the school founded by televangelist Pat Robertson.
A few weeks ago, the House GOP was up in arms over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) $25,000 donation to anti-incumbent candidate Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who ultimately defeated his opponent, incumbent Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL). But the story got a little more fraught when it turned out that Manzullo once said Cantor would not be “saved” because he is Jewish.
Today, Cantor, the only Jewish House Republican, nearly affirmed that this was the reason he fought against Manzullo’s re-election, insinuating that anti-Semitism — and racism — are lingering problems among the House GOP generally. He speaking at a breakfast event organized by Politico.
Calling it the “darker side,” Cantor responded to Politico’s Mike Allen’s question of whether there is anti-semitism in Congress by trying to avoid commenting. But eventually he let up: “I think that all of us know that in this country, we’ve not always gotten it right in terms of racial matters, religious matters, whatever. We continue to strive to provide equal treatment to everybody.”
“We’re talking about the House Republican Caucus, not America,” Allen pushed.
Cantor then sat in silence, grimmacing for several seconds before Allen changed the topic.
The National Jewish Democratic Council released a statement on Cantor’s remarks: “It’s both admirable and disturbing in the extreme to hear Majority Leader Cantor’s candid remarks regarding the dual challenges of racism and anti-Semitism that he has detected in the House GOP caucus.”
At a campaign stop in Pennsylvania Tuesday, Mitt Romney sat down with some regular Americans to discuss the economy and, apparently, his distaste for the cookies provided by a beloved local bakery. “I’m not sure about these cookies,” Romney said. “Did you make those cookies?” Romney said to one of the women. “You didn’t, did you? No. No. They came from the local 7-Eleven bakery or wherever.”
Unfortunately, for Romney, they came from Bethel Bakery — “a longtime South Hills staple,” according to a local ABC affiliate. Some loyal patrons were outraged by Romney’s put down of their local baked goods. “Maybe he’s just used to eating cookies with diamonds in them,” one customer said on Facebook, according to bakery owner John Walsh. Another suggested, “I think the Bethel Bakery should make a new cookie, called ‘The Romney’, and have the top be encrusted with something that resembles diamonds.”
Watch Romney’s remarks:
Walsh, a Republican whose parents opened the bakery in 1955, said, “Initially, we were incensed that he would think that Bethel Bakery is comparable to the 7-Eleven.” But then he saw an opportunity. Now, the bakery is offering a “CookieGate” special — “buy a dozen of our cookies, get a half dozen free all day today!” Not surprisingly, many people have turned out for free (if diamondless) cookies.
Tar Baby character from Disney's "Song of the South"
In a taped interview with Florida conservative blog The Shark Tank, Rep. Michele Bachann (R-MN) used a racially-charged term while attacking President Obama’s economic record. Asked about Obama blocking the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, Bachmann said Obama is “waving a tar baby in the air” — a term that carries a long history of controversy in the South:
BACHMANN: This is just about waiving a tar baby in the air and saying that something else is a problem. I have never seen a more irresponsible President who is infantile in the way that he continually blames everyone else for his failure to first diagnose the problem and second to address the problem.
The term “tar baby” was popularized by the 19th-century Uncle Remus Br’er Fox stories, as a synonym for a sticky situation, but it’s always had a racial undertone. The Oxford English Dictionary says that tar baby is a derogatory term used for “a black or a Maori.” Famed poet Toni Morrison once said of the term, “Tar Baby is also a name, like ‘nigger,’ that white people call black children, black girls, as I recall.”
When Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) compared working with Obama to “touching a tar baby” last year, he was slammed by African-American leaders and quickly apologized to the president in a personal letter.
Presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney had his own “tar baby” situation when he used the term in 2006 to describe Boston’s floundering “Big Dig” construction project. The then-head of the NAACP said Romney “made a bad choice” of words, and a Romney spokesperson promptly issued an apology.
The fallout over Rep. Allen West’s (R-FL) Joe McCarthy-style accusation that “there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party” continues. West has not backed down from his ludicrous assertion that membership in the Congressional Progressive Caucus is akin to Marxism and has even sent out a fundraising letter bragging about the comments and asking for donations to help him fight the “distortions of the corrupt liberal media.”
This morning, in an interview with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, West repeated the charges but refused to identify which members he believed to be Communists:
O’BRIEN: So name names for me. Which? Start naming the 78 to 81.
WEST: Oh we don’t have to do that…
O’BRIEN: No, no, we do, I’m dying to know.
WEST: You can go look up the Congressional Progressive Caucus. You can go look up the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
O’BRIEN: I’ve got them right here.
WEST: Well then you’ve got the names.
O’BRIEN: So [Minnesota Democratic Rep.] Keith Ellison is a Communist?
WEST: Soledad, Soledad you know something…
O’BRIEN: [Arizona Democratic Rep.] Raúl Grijalva is a Communist?
WEST: Well look, I’m just talking about the fact that the ideologies, the principles you believe in.
O’BRIEN: [Wisconsin Democratic Rep.] Tammy Baldwin is a Communist? [California Democratic Rep.] Judy Chu is a Communist?
WEST: You can call it whatever you want. You can call it whatever you want. I’m talking about their beliefs.
O’BRIEN: No but I want to know what you’re calling it.
WEST: I’m calling it this: Communist, Progressive, Marxist, Socialist, Statist — which is another term that’s been used. I’m looking at the ideologies.
Watch the video:
West repeated his previous claims in the interview that, “at the turn of the century…American Communists renamed themselves ‘Progressive,’” and that the Congressional Progressive Caucus “actually wanted to have a constitutional amendment to redistribute wealth in the United States of America.” The amendment to which he apparently refers merely called for a progressive tax system — an idea so radical that even Mitt Romney has embraced it. And even if West’s take on early 20th century history were correct, his argument would be analogous to saying all Floridians are racist because a hundred years ago some racist people moved to Florida.
In 1950, then-Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) famously claimed to have in his hand a list 205 known members of the Communist Party working in the U.S. Department of State. But McCarthy never made the list of names public and the list he waved during that speech was reportedly his own laundry list. It seems fitting that, like McCarthy, West is happy to launch accusations but unwilling to actually name names.
John Raese, a very wealthy Republican who may or may not live in West Virginia, was one of the most colorful Senate candidates of 2010 when he ran against now-Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). This year, he wants a rematch against Manchin (Raese has already lost three Senate races and one for governor), and Raese appears to have lost none of the qualities that led the Manchin campaign to call him “crazy” two years ago.
Speaking at the Putnam County Lincoln Day dinner recently, Raese compared his county’s smoking regulations to when “Hitler used to put [a] Star of David” on Jews:
RAESE: I don’t want government telling me what I can do and what I can’t do because I’m an American. But in Monongalia County you can’t smoke a cigarette, you can’t smoke a cigar, you can’t do anything. And I oppose that. … I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke free environment. This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County. OK?
Remember Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody’s lapel, remember that? Same thing.
Asked by Politico if the Hitler comparison was a misstatement, Raese said: “No, this is not a standard line, nor a misstatement. It is a loss of freedom,” Raese said. “As Ronald Reagan once said, there is no such thing as partial freedom, there is only freedom.”