The Candor of Brian Brown

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), had a rare moment of candor in an interview with Kathryn Jean López of the National Review:

Q: Tell me about this bus tour you’re on. Why did you come up with the idea in the first place?

A: Gay-marriage advocates have a well-organized grassroots movement they’ve built over the years. Conservatives tend to rely on spontaneous mass uprising. I think HRC’s model is more effective — after all, it’s allowed a tiny fraction of Americans to have an outsize influence all disproportionate to their actual numbers. Social conservatives need to learn (as I think the pro-life movement has learned) that we need to organize politically to make a difference. We wanted to make sure that the majority of Americans who support marriage as the union of husband and wife are not drowned out by a loud minority, or by a biased media. Even the conservative media (with certain key exceptions — thank you, NRO!) does not cover this issue well. This bus tour is our first step in bypassing the media, becoming culture creators ourselves, and getting our message out to our supporters.

The Tea Partiers yell quite loudly but numerically they're not even one percent of the US population. Brian Brown is, for once, right. The Tea Party Movement is little more than front for Dick Armey's Freedom Works who have manipulated a tiny fraction of Americans into a crazed frenzy. And their influence is disproportionate to their actual numbers.

Unsustainable Lunacy

Just when you think Republican candidates can't say anything more buffoonish along comes Dan Maes, a Tea Party candidate running in the GOP gubernatorial primary in Colorado, who told a crowd of 50 Tea Party loons at a July 26th rally in Centennial, Colorado that a bike-sharing program advocated by John Hickenlooper, the current Mayor of Denver and the Democratic candidate for Governor, would lead to United Nations control of Denver and that such a program threatens the freedom of Americans. 

“This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed,” Maes told the lunatic fringe. “This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms."

"These aren't just warm, fuzzy ideas from the mayor," Maes added as his audience foamed at the mouth. "These are very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to."

The UN program to which Maes is referring is the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, an association with more than 1,200 cities as members, half of which are in the United States. Denver became a member in 1992. The ICLEI helps communities design and implement sustainable living practices such as Denver's bike sharing program.

The B-Cycle biking sharing program places a network of about 400 red bikes for rent at stations around the city. It is funded by private donors, such as the HMO Kaiser Permanente, and from grants.  Additional revenue comes from memberships and transaction fees. The program was launched in April and it is the nation’s first large-scale citywide bicycle sharing program.

World-wide more than 50 cities have biking sharing programs. In North America, both Montreal and Mexico City have had successful biking-sharing programs up and running for over a year. And just last week Chicago started up its program which is modeled after the Paris program. Each bike comes with a lock, lights and brakes. The first hour is free and each additional half-hour is $2.50 for members, $10 for nonmembers. So far, there are 100 bikes and six locations. Minneapolis and Philadelphia are other cities with bike-sharing programs.

The Denver Post followed up with more extended interview in which Dan Maes, now the front-running candidate in the GOP primary, doubled down on his John Birch Society views.

"At first, I thought, 'Gosh, public transportation, what's wrong with that, and what's wrong with people parking their cars and riding their bikes? And what's wrong with incentives for green cars?' But if you do your homework and research, you realize ICLEI is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty," Maes said.

He said he's worried for Denver because "Mayor Hickenlooper is one of the greatest fans of this program."

"Some would argue this document that mayors have signed is contradictory to our own Constitution," Maes said.

I'd like to think that lunacy that now reigns supreme in the GOP is unsustainable but I suspect before long another of these paranoid, conspiratorial-minded Tea Party loons will open his or her mouth and offer something even more outlandish and buffoonish.

Western state Republicans in complete meltdown

Colorado. Idaho. Nevada. California. From crazy to corrupt to down in the polls, the Republican Party is imploding all over the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

Let’s start with Colorado. You already know about sexist Senate candidate Ken Buck and the gubernatorial primary between plagiarist Scott McInnis and finance cheat Dan Maes. Both stories have new developments. Buck was caught yet again making stupid comments on tape, referring to birthers as “dumbasses”. He was obviously right and I’m with him every step of the way, but it still won’t help him in a GOP primary. But it’s the governor’s race where we really get to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Former Repub Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Trancedo jumped in the race for governor this week as an independent. He he was interviewed yesterday alongside state Repub chair Dick Wadhams on Peter Boyles’ radio show. The interview quickly escalated into a public screaming match, and if you’ve got twenty minutes you really should listen. It’s  just plain fun. The interview starts about ten minutes into the clip with Tancredo being a rude jerk, but by the end Wadhams is making unreasonable demands and calling both Tancredo and Boyles liars. The two men said that Wadhams has told them he dislikes both McInnis and Maes, so not only is the public meltdown fun, it also reveals new party rifts. All of a sudden this Senate seat and this statehouse don't seem to be in nearly as much trouble for Democrats as they were.

If Colorado Repubs feel lonely, all they have to do is look northwest to my neck of the woods, Idaho. I’ve already told you about the state GOP convention, which passed a resolution stating all Repub lawmakers must sign a loyalty oath to try and repeal direct election of senators. That same post also described Sarah Palin’s birthplace in Bonner County, where Repubs are protesting the local fair’s use of the word “fiesta.” The crazy gets worse with ID-01 nominee Raul Labrador, who called for repeal of the 17th amendment before the state GOP did, says our energy policy should be “increasing the production of fossil fuels,” and, like the Colorado GOP and the man he beat in the primary, is a plagiarist. This is an +18 district where McCain won by 25 points – and yet Labrador can’t so much as win the support of the NRCC, the Tea Party Express or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Small wonder the endangered first-term Democrat Walt Minnick has a 16-1 advantage in cash-on-hand and national pundits are moving the race from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic.”

But what happens at the federal level is a symptom of what happens at the local level, and state Rep. Phil Hart of Athol, here in Kootenai County, is our own little Charlie Rangel. Hart is under investigation by the state House ethics committee for tax issues. He’s been late on paying county taxes for 8 years in a row, but the county should consider itself lucky – he owes nearly $700,000 in unpaid federal and state taxes. The man’s not just a tax cheat, either – he’s a thief. The liens include $13,014 in unpaid federal withholding taxes at his engineering firm. In other words, he took his employees’ tax money but kept it for himself rather than turning it over to the government. And the best part? He sits on the House subcommittee that affects issues like his but insists there’s no conflict of interest. Hart and the Idaho GOP are a bigger joke than the name of the town he represents – Athol. But not to worry, he says; the citizens of Idaho are better off for his crimes. “I think it makes you a better legislator, to have these life experiences.”

And of course, you already know about Nevada and the crazy that is Sharron Angle. After a series of missteps – defending BP, calling for the repeal of Medicare and Social Security – she is starting to face criticism from within her own party.

"Sharron's first six weeks have been atrocious," said Danny Tarkanian, who was defeated in Nevada's GOP Senate primary. "I think she would admit to that."…

Before endorsing Angle in her election fight, former Nevada Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich warned the Tea Party darling, "You're scaring the bejesus out of everybody."

Republican Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, who backed Angle's GOP primary opponent, Sue Lowden, settled on endorsing Reid in the state's general election match-up. "Our state [would] suffer and we would never get anything done," Cashell said of the prospect of Angle being elected.

If California Republicans were hoping that maybe the San Gabriels would insulate them from the mountain west, they’re going to be very disappointed. Despite a new ad-buy from the NRSC, a new PPP poll shows that Democrat Barbara Boxer finally has a comfortable lead over the Palin-endorsed Carly Fiorina in CA-Sen at 49-40. Boxer hasn’t been up by this much since May. (The poll also found that 19% of voters have a higher opinion of Boxer’s hair and 14% have a higher opinion of Fiorina’s hair. 67% are not sure.)

This sure is a good month to be a western Democrat. Whoa, I feel good… I knew that I would now… so good… so good…

Sexism in the Colorado GOP

YouTube strikes again. Ken Buck, the front-runner for the Repub nomination for Senate in Colorado against Jane Norton - and that first name, Jane, that's important here - was asked why primary voters should support him. His answer?

"Because I do not wear high heels." And that gesture? Geez.

The current RCP polling average has Buck up 7 points over Norton. His lead was a full 16 in the most recent survey, a mid-June poll from the Denver Post. Something tells me that might be about to change.

Here's his "excuse." At least he's not trying to lie his way through an apology:

Buck campaign spokesman Owen Loftus said, “Obviously, the comment was made in jest after Jane questioned Ken’s ‘manhood’ in her new ad.”

In that ad, Norton, a former lieutenant governor, criticizes an independent 527 organization for attacking her and challenges Buck to “be man enough to do it himself.”

What do you think is next for Buck after he loses this race? Maybe he'll run recall campaigns against GOP Senators Collins, Snowe, and Hutchison? More importantly, I wonder what the odds of Sarah Palin endorsing Norton are now?

Update: Dang, that didn't take long at all. Norton's ad in reply:

Weekly Pulse: FACE the Facts

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

In 1993, anti-choice extremists murdered a doctor, burned 12 buildings, set off a bomb, and blockaded 66 abortion clinics. The following year, President Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. FACE made it a federal crime to obstruct a clinic or intimidate patients and providers.

Wendy Norris of RH Reality Check reports that, in the intervening 16 years, the Justice Department has only prosecuted 19 civil and 45 criminal cases under FACE. Abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was assassinated last year by a hardcore clinic protester, and many asked if the FACE Act was being enforced.

Norris’s story is part of a series on FACE published by RH Reality. The next installment will explore how one radical anti-choice protester has managed to terrorize the same clinic for 30 years with apparent impunity. Kudos to the Guggenheim foundation for funding this important and timely series, and to the John Jay College Center on Media, Crime and Justice for providing editorial input.

The Pill and I

May 9th is the 50th anniversary of the FDA’s approval of Enovid, the first birth control pill. Care2 contributor Ann Pietrangelo, who recently celebrated her own 50th birthday, reflects on how the Pill changed history:

I went through my entire reproductive life in a way that my female ancestors, indeed my own mother, could scarcely have imagined. The Pill and other contraceptive choices were always available to me. I have never had to face the dreaded abortion decision, but throughout my reproductive years, I had the peace of mind of knowing that such a decision, difficult though it would be, was mine to make. I, and millions of women of my age group and younger have been most fortunate. We’ve lived a different kind of life than would have been possible in another time and another place.

Anti-”personhood” coalition kicks off

A new group has united to fight Colorado’s proposed “egg as person” ballot initiative, Joseph Boven of the Colorado Independent reports.  The organization calls itself Protect Families, Protect Choices (PFPC). If Amendment 62 passes, it would effectively outlaw abortion, stem cell research, and even some forms of contraception. Women who drink, use drugs, or attempt suicide could face criminal charges if the ballot initiative becomes law.

The Colorado measure is one of of many similar measures proffered by anti-abortion activists in state legislatures around the country. The last time Coloradans voted on whether to give fertilized ova the full complement of rights under state law, 73% voted against the measure. If the bill passes, will frozen embryos be able to own property? Could Coloradans evade their creditors by signing their houses over to zygotes?

Will health care reform save Democrats?

In The Nation, Katherine S. Newman and Steven Attewell tackle the question on everyone’s mind: Will health care reform change the political fortunes of President Barack Obama and the Democrats? They warn that Democrats shouldn’t expect short-term political gains, even if reform is ultimately regarded as a success story:

For some time to come we can expect the firestorm of opposition to health care reform that is unfolding today to persist, even from people who stand to benefit from the provisions of the new law. The rose-colored glasses through which we sometimes view the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society often obscure how contentious the debates were or how long they continued after the passage of key legislation. We should not be deterred by the noise coming out of the Tea Party. The weight of history is against them.

Passive aggressive red states

Suzy Khimm of Mother Jones sees trouble ahead: So far, at least 15 states have refused to create high-risk health insurance pools. The refusniks are red states hostile to health care reform. High-risk pools are a stopgap to provide coverage for people with preexisting conditions. Insurers are free to discriminate against sick people until 2014, and high risk pools are supposed to cover those who can’t buy coverage in the meantime.

Khimm explains that the federal government will have to step in and create high-risk pools if states aren’t willing to do so. Health care reform left a great deal of power in the hands of states. The stage has been set for a grim power struggle, a bureaucratic battle of attrition.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

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