Monday, October 12, 2015


(Warning: Disgusting language.)

Over at Crooks & Liars, Susie Madrak draws our attention to this:
A wingnut activist named Robert Morrow trolled Chelsea Clinton’s book signing in Austin, Texas Friday. Imagine being approached with these sordid personal attacks in public, and you begin to understand why she and her mother don't often favor being spontaneous or unguarded:
“Has your mother ever told you that you’re the daughter of Webb Hubbell, and not Bill Clinton,” he said while Chelsea was looking down, signing a copy of “It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going.”

The question was in reference to a long-time rumor alleging Chelsea was the result of an affair between the Clinton lawyer and Hillary.

Looking up, smiling, Chelsea responded, “I am so proud to be my parents’ daughter,” without actually naming her parents....

Referring to Clinton’s book being geared towards kids, Morrow asked, “Would you say Bill Clinton also targets teenage girls, except for sexual reasons?”

“I would say my book is really resonating with kids,” Clinton responded. “I was at the Ann Richards School earlier today and I’m so grateful that it’s resonating to the young girls and the young boys that I’ve been talking to across the country.”

But Morrow is more than just "a wingnut activist." He's the co-author of a book titled The Clintons' War on Women. You may know the lead author: His name is Roger Stone.

Stone, we're told, either quit the Donald Trump campaign or was fired in August. He had been a top Trump adviser. Nevertheless, he seems to be making quite a few media appearances on Trump's behalf.

Morrow, Stone's co-author, wasn't acting out of character when he approached Chelsea Clinton at that book signing. As Eric Hanaoki of Media Matters noted last month in a post, making wild, baseless, and tasteless accusations against the Clintons (and some other politicians) is pretty much a full-time job for Morrow. Here are some not-suitable-for-work highlights from Hanaoki's post:
Morrow: "The Taliban Was Created To Deal With People Like Hillary Clinton." [Facebook, 4/18/14]....

Morrow: "What Is A Greater Threat To The USA: ISIS Or Hillary Clinton's Vaginal Odor?" [Facebook, 5/23/15]....

Morrow On Clinton: "Maggots Started Coming Out Of Her Pussy."
Bill Clinton went down on Hillary one time. While he was licking her maggots started coming out of her pussy. Bill with a sickly look on his face looks up and says. "Sarge, I just can't do this anymore." Hillary, without missing a beat, grabs the back of Bill's head and shoves it back onto her snatch and said "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?!!" [Facebook, 4/17/14]....

Morrow: "Is Hillary Clinton A Pre-Op Or A Post-Op Transsexual?" [Facebook, 2/2/13]....

Morrow: Someone Told Me "Chelsea Was The Slut."
Someone who knew Chelsea Clinton at Stanford in the late 1990's told me, as we worked out in the gym, that Chelsea was the slut for the Stanford swim. At least men like her unlike her mother. [Facebook, 12/15/13]
Oh, and there's this:

Morrow has also accused George H.W. Bush of being "a homosexual pedophile," speculated that President Obama had sex with Rahm Emanuel and that Herman Cain "loves that white pussy," and accused Jeb Bush of murder. And I'm just giving you a small taste of what's in that Media Matters post.

Let me say this again: A former top adviser and current top surrogate for the Republican presidential front-runner professionally collaborated with this nasty piece of work, and this is somehow not a scandal, because of the mainstream media's perpetual unwillingness to say that anything Republicans do is beyond the pale.

Not only is it considered perfectly fine that Stone worked with this human septic-tank explosion, but Stone is actually regarded as a delightful and "colorful" chap by the mainstream press. As I told you at the time, Stone was the subject of a gushing puff piece in the Styles section of The New York Times in late August.

He also received delighted birthday wishes from pals in the press:

What would it take for a Republican insider to become a pariah? Is anything short of murder okay?


This morning, in her weekly NPR conversation on politics, Cokie Roberts was fine for the first couple of minutes. The main topic in the chat with Morning Edition's David Greene was the chaos among House Republicans, and she had intelligent things to say about the reasons that rule changes proposed by GOP zealots would further gum up the works in Washington. There was an amusing anecdote involving the War of 1812 and a spittoon. Up to that point, more or less unobjectionable.

But then Roberts said this about House Republican crazies and the possibility that Paul Ryan will run for Speaker of the House:
I went into the weekend thinking that Paul Ryan would bend to the will of the people in his party telling him he has to do it. But now I'm not so sure, because a lot of the feisty Republicans are saying, well, they're not so sure either. And they're being driven by the presidential candidates. You know, what is the mileage, David, in being a Speaker trying to get something done when you have a field of Republican presidential candidates out there saying, "If you get anything done, you're a sellout"?
(Emphasis added.)

Oh, so that's the latest excuse for Republican extremism: It's just a momentary spasm that would never have happened if it weren't for a few loudmouth presidential candidates. Sure, that makes sense -- after all, congressional Republicans have been models of decorum up till now, as we saw in 2013, when they shut down the government even though there was no presidential campaign going on.

To Beltway journalists and pundits, GOP extremism is always a puzzling temporary anomaly. The Trump moment was supposed to pass in a fortnight, or maybe a month, or at worst a summer, then give way to a dull campaign in which sober-sided voters united around a Bush-Kasich or Rubio-Kasich ticket that, if elected, would surely get legislation passed, probably in a mood of comity lubricated by frequent after-work drinks with Democratic leaders, in the spirit of the sainted Tip and Ronnie. It's not clear why the peasants are still revolting, but surely this Trump thing will end any day now, oh, and the Carson thing, too. And before that we were told that, yes, the Tea Party moment in 2009 and 2010 was a tad unpleasant, but cooler Establishment heads prevailed in the 2014 midterms, and after that Republicans were undoubtedly determined to show they were " ready to govern."

The Beltway never accepts that the Republican rot is pervasive. It's always localized. It's always an exception to the rule. It's always the result of extenuating circumstances. Things will be back to normal any day now -- trust us.


It's Monday morning and nearly everyone in politics is still praying that Paul Ryan will agree to run for Speaker of the House:
The demands on Ryan to run are coming from all quarters, most intensely from the top of the congressional wing of the Republican Party. According to sources familiar with the efforts to get Ryan to move from an extremely reluctant “maybe” to a grudging “yes,” he has been in extensive contact with [John] Boehner, [Kevin] McCarthy, and Oregon Congressman Greg Walden.
National Review wants him to run. Mitt Romney wants him to run. Joe Scarborough says he literally has to run. Even the chairman of the conservative-purist House Freedom Caucus now says the caucus "would look favorably" on Ryan.

Politico says Republicans are "pleading" with Ryan. The New York Times says the party is "desperate" for him.

Um, whatever happened to the GOP's "deep bench"?

I know we used to talk about the "deep bench" in reference to Republicans' presidential prospects. They had a huge field that included many well-known figures, some of them in their forties and fifties; Democrats had, well, Hillary Clinton. Now, however, it's obvious that the Republicans have an incredibly weak field -- it just happens to be a large incredibly weak field. The leading presidential candidates are two non-politicians in their sixties; there are young, fresh officeholders -- Paul, Cruz, Jindal, Christie -- but they're embarrassments.

The same thing is happening in the House, right? Republicans have a House majority larger than any they've had in our lifetimes, a mix of fresh faces and veterans -- but nearly all of these folks came up in a succession of angry eras -- the eras of Gingrich, Bush/Cheney, and the Tea Party. None of them, it seems, can function as adults while still working in concert with the party's overgrown children.

Whether you're a Republican presidential candidate or a Republican Speaker candidate, you need to be presentable to the larger public, but that's next to impossible because you also have to appeal to infantile anarchists. In the presidential field, maybe Marco Rubio can thread that needle -- maybe. In the House, apparently if Ryan continues to say no, there's no one else who can handle the job.

So no one is actually capable of suiting up and running onto the field to play either of these positions -- but if you want a lot of people who can't do it, then, yes, the GOP has a deep bench.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I don't know what would change the gun control debate in America, but, regrettably, what people like Peter Read are doing just isn't effective:
... Mr. Read’s mind, after the mass shooting in Oregon, was on the first of his six children, his daughter Mary, murdered at age 19 in the 2007 campus massacre at Virginia Tech. His blue eyes rimmed with red, he drew a large circle in the air with his hands, in the shape of a giant hole.

“Mary’s a hole,” he said. Life goes on, with Boy Scouts and swim practice and homework, but “everything else flows around” the hole, “a space that doesn’t close up.”

... Mr. Read has sought to fill that hole through advocacy, in his case by pushing for tougher gun safety laws.

... In the years since his daughter’s death, Mr. Read, 53, has given interviews (“The Oprah Winfrey Show” showed up just days after Mary died), spoken at Hollywood fund-raisers for gun control advocacy groups, addressed legislatures in states as far away as Montana and knocked on more lawmakers’ doors than he can count.
And it's having little to no effect, even in Read's home state of Virginia, despite the horror of the Virginia Tech massacre:
Tim Kaine, a Democrat who was governor at the time of the Tech shooting and is now a United States senator, “thought for certain,” he said, that the massacre would spur action. He thought his legislature would expand background checks, now required only for those who buy guns from federally licensed arms dealers, to all gun sales. So did Mr. Read.

Instead, Mr. Kaine made other changes. He used his executive powers to require mental health records to be entered into the background check database for gun buyers, signed legislation requiring colleges to have safety plans and increased funding for mental health services.

“There was only one thing I was not able to do,” he said. “The punch line is: I was not able to get my legislature to even seriously contemplate any improvements to Virginia’s gun laws.”
Read, as the story makes clear, acts through traditional channels -- lobbying legislators, working with gun control groups, speaking out in public. He's confronted gun advocates, but in a polite way -- and that had no effect either:
Mr. Read’s advocacy began in May 2007, four weeks after he buried his daughter, when he learned the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group whose president boasts it is “to the right of the N.R.A.,” planned to raffle off firearms at a government building just miles from his home.

Incensed, he called another Virginia Tech father, Joseph Samaha, a commercial real estate broker whose daughter, an accomplished 18-year-old dancer named Reema, had been killed in the same French class as Mary. They decided to stand outside in silent protest, holding photographs of their beautiful, dark-haired, murdered daughters.
Yes -- Read, Samaha, and a few other protesters stood outside, greatly outnumbered by the gleeful capacity crowd inside, where a Para-Ordnance pistol and a Varmint Stalker rifle were given away.

I don't know if anything can change the balance of power in this debate. But I wonder what would happen if gun control advocates tried the kind of nonviolent protest -- confrontational nonviolent protest -- that was a key tactic of the civil rights movement in the Martin Luther King era.

I'm talking about protesters physically getting into spaces where gun advocates congregate, and bearing nonviolent witness the way civil rights protesters did at lunch counters and other public accommodations.

This would be very, very dangerous. The protesters would have to be unwilling to yield even if spat on or struck or beaten bloody. They'd face a very real risk of being shot. But that's the point: What nonviolent civil rights protesters drew attention to was the savagery and hatred of the segregationists. I look at the gun mobs these days and I see the same savagery, the same rage, the same lack of common human decency.

I don't think most of America sees that. Despite a rash of massacres in recent years, public opinion of the NRA has been consistently favorable, and support for the gunners' agenda is increasing.

Would this work? I don't know. Probably not. But what gun control advocates are doing now isn't working.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


President Obama was met by protesters yesterday when he went to Roseburg, Oregon, to meet with relatives of some of the victims of last week's school shooting:
Hundreds of irate Oregonians, toting guns and nasty signs, gave President Obama a derisive Friday welcome before he sat with relatives of last week’s college shooting victims.

“Obama Go Home” and “Go Back To Kenya” read two of the crude homemade posters held aloft by demonstrators who rolled out the rhetoric, not the red carpet for the commander-in-chief.

“He’s exploiting a local tragedy to make a political point,” griped Bruce Rester, 66, who came from Glendale, Ore., carrying a .45-caliber automatic handgun.
The protest was organized by a gentleman named Casey Runyan.
Casey Runyan, [an] activist and 2014 Republican candidate for the Oregon House of Representatives, quickly put up a Facebook page, Defend Roseburg -- Deny barack 0bama.... The organizers called for “a lot of people” to show up at the town to protest the president “politicizing the event as a conduit for increased executive orders on gun control via means of his pen, and his phone.”
As Freak Out Nation notes, Mr. Runyan has an interesting past:
The organizer of the event titled “Defend Roseburg, Deny Barack Obama,” Casey Runyan, won the Republican primary for House District 9 in Southern Oregon in July of 2014, but he was rejected by GOP leadership when he asked for support.

“The reason I am not getting any support from the Republican leadership is because of a crime that occurred,” Runyan admitted at the time.

In December 2004, Runyan was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and felony assault in which he later pleaded guilty and served eight months in county jail.

The Statesman Journal reported:
According to the incident report from the Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Office, Runyan returned to his mother’s house from a bar on the evening of Dec. 19, 2004 and woke her boyfriend, Walter Gembarowski, by punching him in the face and shouting obscenities.

“Walter woke up but was unable to do much to protect himself because the blankets restricted his movements,” according to the report. “Walter stated he could not see much due to blood getting in his eyes.”

Runyan’s mother told deputies that her son hit her in the mouth when she tried to break up the fight.

Runyan left the house, but he soon returned and punched through his mother’s bedroom window, grabbed the phone line and ripped it out while she spoke with a 911 dispatcher.
The altercation ended when Runyan, who was drunk, drove away after repeatedly kicking Gembarowski’s truck.
This conviction doesn't seem to prevent Mr. Runyan from continuing to pack heat, as Breitbart noted a couple of days ago:
One resident -- disabled Marine Casey Runyan -- said he carries a Glock handgun “everywhere he goes.” He added, “All my friends agree with me. That’s the only kind of friends I have.”
The felony conviction also didn't seem to be a problem for Runyan when he was confronted by police in 2013 for open-carrying at the Clackamas County Fair:

When the Oregon GOP refused to back Runyan's congressional bid, he insisted he was a changed man:
"I've changed my relationship with alcohol," Runyan said. "I said 'If that's what drinking like that is going to do to me, I'm not going to drink like that anymore.' "

He still enjoys an occasional beer or two at home with his wife, but Runyan said he avoids bars and people who drink with the expressed purpose of getting drunk.
But as Freak Out Nation points out, he still has a bit of an anger management problem. A couple of months ago, a man on social media grieving the death of his fifteen-year-old daughter recalled the time she'd urged him to pay for some meals for the troops; the grieving father was uncertain as to whether they were soldiers or Marines. Runyan lost it:

Runyan is -- how hould I put this? -- tightly wound. Here he is essentially telling an Oregon state senator to resign at a 2014 hearing on gun legislation:

... I am speaking here today to remind you of your limited authority. You have been overreaching in that limited authority for quite some time now, and quite honestly, I am disgusted that you still hold the seat you are in. Article Six, Clause Three of the United States Constitution requires that every state official to support the United States Constitution, not just parts of it that you think you like, and parts that you don't like. If you prefer to argue the case against the fundamental God-given inherent liberty of the people's right to bear arms and require lawful citizens to prove innocence in order to exercise it because the arms in question are not single-shot muskets, please return to your offices at the end of this hearing and mail out your senatorial messages with your feather quill pens on your parchment paper from the office of the printing press. When state officials acquiesce in unconstitutional acts, you are conniving with tyrants against your own people. And if you are conniving with tyrants against your own people so that you can keep your federal funding, then shame on you, for you're becoming so corrupt that you allow yourself to be bribed with money that your grandchildren will have to pay back. And if you connive with tyrants against your own people because you are too cowardly to stand up to them, then you need to resign the office in which you hold, and let a real man or a real woman do the job you are too coward to do....
The bill he found so intolerable was one that would have required a background check in the state before a gun transfer between individuals. If I'm following his testimony correctly, he believes that all background checks are unconstitutional.

Runyon is a member of the Oath Keepers, and also of a group called Heirs of Patrick Henry, Northwest.

Hey, maybe he should go to D.C. and declare his candidacy for Speaker of the House.

Friday, October 09, 2015


Apparently, a lot of people believe that Ben Carson has strange and unusual ideas about the rise of the Third Reich:
Ben Carson said Thursday that Adolf Hitler’s mass murder of Jews “would have been greatly diminished” if German citizens had not been disarmed by the Nazi regime.

The comment ... came during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer....

His comments about gun control in Nazi Germany are explored in his just-released book, “A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties,” in which he expands on his political views.

He said Nazi Germany was one of the regimes that he used as a cautionary tale against curbing citizens’ gun rights.

“But just clarify, if there had been no gun control laws in Europe at that time, would 6 million Jews have been slaughtered?” Blitzer asked.

"I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” Carson said.

Blitzer pushed a bit more: “Because they had a powerful military machine, as you know, the Nazis.”

“I understand that,” Carson said. “I’m telling you that there is a reason that these dictatorial people take the guns first.”
But there's nothing unusual about what he's saying. He's echoing an assertion that right-wingers have been making for years. If you didn't know that, it's probably because the mainstream press routinely ignores or downplays this sort of conservative extremism.

In January 2013, when President Obama was pressing for gun control measures in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, the Drudge Report posted the headline on the left below:

And as Alex Seitz-Wald pointed out at the time, the idea had been in the right-wing air for a while:
The NRA, Fox News, Fox News (again), Alex Jones, email chains, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, Gun Owners of America, etc., all agree that gun control was critical to Hitler’s rise to power. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (“America’s most aggressive defender of firearms ownership”) is built almost exclusively around this notion, popularizing posters of Hitler giving the Nazi salute next to the text: “All in favor of ‘gun control’ raise your right hand.”

In his 1994 book, NRA head Wayne LaPierre dwelled on the Hitler meme at length, writing: “In Germany, Jewish extermination began with the Nazi Weapon Law of 1938, signed by Adolf Hitler.”
On Fox, Seitz-Wald Fox cites Judge Andrew Napolitano and a Fox & Friends guest named Joshua Boston; a month after Seitz-Wald's article appeared, the Big Kahuna, Bill O'Reilly, echoed the talking point:
The Nazis were not told off. They were defeated by brave men armed with guns. Also the Nazis took most guns away from civilians, both German and those under occupation. In fact, Hitler imposed the strictest gun control on earth.
A few months later, former Fox star Glenn Beck, in a gun control book, invoked the meme as well, although he didn't buy into it completely:
"If there had been no gun control laws in Germany prior to Hitler, and the German people were as heavily armed as Americans are today, would things still have played out the same way? Obviously, no one knows for sure -- but it's hard to make a convincing case that things could've been much worse."
The idea goes back decades:
According to gun rights activist Neal Knox, the Nazi gun control theory was first suggested by Jay Simkin and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) founder Aaron S. Zelman in a book they published in 1992. In it, they compared the German gun laws of 1928 and 1938, and the U.S. Congressional hearings for what became the Gun Control Act of 1968.
In 1992, supporters of a congressional candidate named Frank LoBiondo linked Nazism and gun control in a campaign flier:
In September, during the Sportsmen's Jamboree in Millville, someone in a booth behind where LoBiondo was campaigning distributed literature focusing on gun control that compared [incumbent William J.] Hughes to Adolf Hitler. The offending flier showed Hitler saluting the image of a bull's-eye, and was captioned, "Everyone in favor of gun control - raise your right hand - dump Bill Hughes."

Hughes said LoBiondo had endorsed the inflammatory flier, and LoBiondo heatedly denied having any connection to the literature.
(LoBiondo, by the way won a congressional election in 1994, and has been a congressman ever since.)

Ron Paul endorsed the idea on the floor of the House in 2003:
I would remind my colleagues that policies prohibiting the private ownership of firearms were strongly supported by tyrants such as Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tong.
So if you think Carson is saying something uniquely crazy, you simply haven't been paying attention -- or the news sources to which you regularly turn have been trying to persuade you that conservatism isn't as crazy as it actually is.


And the idea really is crazy, as Ed Kilgore notes:
Nazis were the masters of extralegal violence; had an early armed resistance arisen, it would probably if anything have sped the imposition of state terror, much like the Reichstag fire did.
I'd add this: Literally millions of right-wing Americans believe that we're enduring a totalitarian dictatorship right here, right now. A huge percentage of those right-wingers -- perhaps the majority -- are armed, some of them heavily. If these people are so certain that armed citizens can overthrow a tyrant, why aren't they trying? Why isn't there an armed resistance movement threatening the Obama administration? Do you think maybe they've made a reasonable calculation of the odds of success, and have decided not to give it a go? And what does that say about their pathetic blows-against-the-empire fantasies?


It's not even 8:30 in the morning as I type this and there's already been a school shooting today (at Northern Arizona University -- one dead, three hospitalized, suspect in custody, just another day in America). So it was painful to listen to former Arkansas congressman Jay Dickey on NPR this morning.

Dickey, who was, in his own words, "the NRA’s point person in Congress" until he left office in 2001, has been praised in some circles for expressing regret about pro-gun legislation he was instrumental in passing in 1996:
Looking back, nearly 20 years later, Jay Dickey is apologetic.

He is gone from Congress, giving him space to reflect on his namesake amendment that, to this day, continues to define the rigid politics of gun policy... he helped pass a restriction of federal funding for gun violence research in 1996 ... dampening federal research for years and discouraging researchers from entering the field.

Now, as mass shootings pile up, including last week's killing of nine at a community college in Oregon, Dickey admitted to carrying a sense of responsibility for progress not made.

"I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time," Dickey, an Arkansas Republican, told the Huffington Post in an interview. "I have regrets."
He said the same thing on the radio today -- and he insisted that his law was misunderstood:
STEVE INSKEEP, NPR: ... [Dickey's] law ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention never to fund research that could be seen as advocacy for gun control. Since the 1990s, that provision has commonly stopped any gun studies, because researchers don't want to risk losing federal money. And that is what Jay Dickey regrets. The Arkansas politician and owner of two shotguns says he just wanted the CDC to follow a simple rule.

JAY DICKEY: Don't let any of those dollars go to gun control advocacy.

INSKEEP: So that's what the intent was. Did you intend to cut off all research on the effects of guns or gun ownership in society?

DICKEY: We didn't think about that. It turned out that that's what happened, but it wasn't aimed at that. And it wasn't necessary that all research stop. It just couldn't be the collection of data so that they can advocate gun control. That's all we were talking about, but for some reason it just stopped altogether.
Really, Jay? You had no intention of stopping federally funded gun research altogether?

That's odd, because you and your allies tried to get rid of the part of the CDC that oversaw this research, and then set out to precisely the amount of money devoted to the research:
Initially, pro-gun lawmakers sought to eliminate [the CDC's National Center for Injury Control and Prevention] completely, arguing that its work was “redundant” and reflected a political agenda. When that failed, they turned to the appropriations process. In 1996, Representative Jay Dickey, Republican of Arkansas, succeeded in pushing through an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the disease control centers’ budget, the very amount it had spent on firearms-related research the year before.
That zeroing out was reversed -- but it was replaced with an 80% cut in funding, accompanied by severe restrictions, as noted in a 1997 Frontline report:
After a heated battle in the House and Senate, the CDC's $2.6 million budget for firearm research was finally restored last summer, but legislators earmarked the money to study traumatic brain injuries instead. Also, the budget bill included specific language that stated no CDC money could be used "to advocate or promote gun control." As a result, CDC's budget for pure firearm injury related research dropped 80% to about $500,000 this year.
And while Dickey now says he wanted gun research continued -- jut not the nasty anti-gun kind -- a quote in that Frontline report strongly suggests that he thought all gun research was a lot of nonsense:
"Does anyone dispute that a person who is struck by a bullet can be seriously hurt or killed," Dickey stated in one press release. "Do we need to spend almost three million of taxpayer money for 'research' to discover this?"
So spare us the crocodile tears, Jay. You killed off important gun research, and you knew exactly what you were doing. If you want to express remorse now, admit your intent back in the 1990s. Don't pretend the consequences were unintended.

Thursday, October 08, 2015


Over at The New York Times, Carl Hulse tells us that Republicans seem to be reliving a past identity crisis:
House Republicans Govern Like It’s 1998, Worrying Many

... Representative Kevin McCarthy’s abrupt withdrawal from a speaker’s race he was favored to win ... echoed the stunning events of December 1998, when another Republican speaker-in-waiting, Representative Robert L. Livingston of Louisiana, was forced to withdraw because of marital infidelities. Republicans scrambled to find an acceptable consensus pick, and J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois was plucked from out of almost nowhere to become speaker of the House.

... But in 1998, House Republicans had a strongman in their majority whip, Tom DeLay of Texas, to rally the rank and file behind his choice. No such figure exists today.

Some Republicans worried that the current unraveling might be even worse than 1998, which played out in a crisis atmosphere as the House was voting to impeach President Bill Clinton.

“Even then we knew we could resolve it ourselves,” said Representative Pete King, Republican of New York. “But now you have a situation where there are 30 or 40 people in their own party who say they are not going to vote for anyone no matter who it is. We have to end this. We look absolutely crazy.”
But you know they will end this somehow. And as soon as they do, regardless of who gets John Boehner's jobm, as long as House Republicans aren't actively calling for a military coup against the president or literally burning government buildings to the ground, there'll be a rash of softball feature stories in the mainstream media with titles like "Republicans Regroup, with Second Chance to Prove They Can Govern."

The events of 1998 were supposedly terrible for the GOP -- there were shocking losses in the midterms followed by an unpopular impeachment of the president and a failed Senate trial. But what was the political mood then? Jonathan Chait remembers:
The Democratic Party spent 1999 in a state of almost unbroken panic. Even while an incumbent Democrat had presided over an economic boom that delivered the greatest prosperity Americans had enjoyed in decades, they could not escape a sour cynicism pervading the electorate. Al Gore, President Clinton’s chosen successor, trailed Republicans badly throughout the year and faced a stubborn threat from within his own party....

The mechanism that transferred Clinton’s well-known moral failings onto his vice-president was an exceedingly technical fund-raising scandal. Gore made fund-raising calls for the Democratic Party from the White House, which did not violate either the letter or the spirit of the law (the Pendleton Act, which was intended to prevent shaking down potential officeholders for donations). But reporters found Gore’s performance untrustworthy anyway. The vice-president, reported the New York Times in 1997, “used legalistic language, which he repeated verbatim several times, to say he had not violated another law that prohibits anybody from raising campaign money in the White House.” As a result, scandal-tinged themes came to dominate news coverage of Gore. His attempts to create new narratives merely resulted in chortling reporters mocking him for trying too hard to reshape his image, reinforcing their theme that he lacked “authenticity.”
Does that sound familiar? It should -- Chait's point is that we seem to be reliving that era, with Hillary Clinton, like Al Gore, as the target of a trumped-up scandal endlessly flogged by Republicans. (I agree with Chait on this.)

This happened in the late 1990s despite a leadership crisis among congressional Republicans, and despite Republicans' apparent compulsion to pursue unpopular extremist measures as if they just couldn't help themselves. All that was true, and yet it didn't hurt the GOP. Republicans had Gore on the ropes throughout the campaign. He eked out a popular-vote win in 2000 but still didn't become president. The GOP controlled all three branches of government for most of the next six years.

So enjoy the Republicans' crisis while it lasts. Unless it lasts all the way through the fall of 2016, it will be a non-factor in the election, just as the 2013 shutdown was a non-factor in 2014. Liberal and centrist voters have no long-term memory for this sort of thing. The mainstream press always wants to revert to the preferred narrative: that the GOP is a sane, responsible party. There would probably have to be tanks in the streets in late 2016, with Louis Gohmert as the lead driver, before GOP chaos had an electoral effect.


Conservatism eats another one of its own:
Representative Kevin McCarthy on Thursday abruptly took himself out of the race to succeed John A. Boehner as House speaker, apparently undone by the same forces that drove Mr. Boehner to resign.

... Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, said that in dropping out of race, Mr. McCarthy said, “I’m not the one to unify the party.”

A group of about 40 hard-line House conservatives announced Wednesday night that they would support Representative Daniel Webster of Florida, making it unclear whether Mr. McCarthy, who is from California, could assemble the 218 votes on the floor that he would need to be elected later this month.

The decision put the House of Representatives into a state of disarray....
When I read this, one of the first things that came to mind was a seemingly unrelated story that appeared in The Hill about a week ago:
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell joked that he identifies as a Republican to annoy the GOP’s right-wing.

“Yes, I’m still a Republican,” he said about his party affiliation during the Washington Ideas Forum in Washington, D.C., according to the Daily Mail.

“I want to continue to be a Republican because it annoys them,” Powell quipped to host Walter Isaacson.

“I think the party has shifted much further right than where the country is and it should be obvious to party leaders that they cannot keep saying and doing the things that they were doing and hope to be successful in national-level election in the future, not just in 2016,” he added.
But here's the problem: The Republican Party doesn't care. The party in recent years has made its right-centrists -- Powell, Christie Whitman, William Weld -- increasingly unwelcome. And they did nothing to fight back, except occasionally stamp an ineffectual foot:

They ceded unchallenged control of the party to a mix of bomb-throwing radicals and conservatives who ceded power to those radicals while holding them just enough in check that they only burned some of the government (and the country) down.

And now we see that that wasn't enough for the radicals.McCarthy's fellow "Young Gun" Eric Cantor was primaried out of a job. Boehner fell on his sword to avoid having the zealots turn that sword on him. Hard-right presidential wannabes -- Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz -- have struggled as nihilist know-nothings such as Ben Carson and Donald Trump call for gun vigilantism, immigrant-bashing, and an unconstitutional religious test for the presidency.

Paul Ryan was the running mate Mitt Romney picked to shore up his conservative cred; he announced that he was going to give a nominating speech for McCarthy, but that didn't help. Dick Cheney was the hardest of the hardcore hawks in the last Repulican administration, serving a President Bush whose Oedipal battle against his father was clearly a rejection of right-centrism; Cheney endorsed McCarthy, but that didn't help.

I've long believed that, at some time in the past few years, Colin Powell should have called a press conference, along with other GOP right-centrists, to announce that the party was going in a dangerously radical direction and they were all severing their Republican ties. Powell has been one of America's most admired men for a generation; if he, Whitman, Weld, and others had done this, attention might have been paid.

But it's too late now. The GOP has purged the right-centrists and is in the process of purging everyone who's not the political equivalent of a terrorist. I have no idea where this ends.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


So this happened tonight:
Rupert Murdoch really likes Ben Carson and had some praise for him on Twitter tonight that also contained a veiled swipe at President Obama:

In case the tweet embedded above has been deleted by the time you read this, Murdoch wrote, "Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black president who can properly address the racial divide? And much else."

Well, it kills conservatives that a Democrat is America's first black president. They frequently insist that Obama didn't really attain that milestone, and that one of their own will attain it soon.

Go to Amazon and you can still buy a "Herman Cain - America's first REAL Black President " keychain from a shop called Barger's Boutique:

On her radio show four years ago, Laura Ingraham seconded this notion:
Well I have a question. Herman Cain, if he became president, he would be the first black president, when you measure it by -- because he doesn’t -- does he have a white mother, white father, grandparents, no, right? So Herman Cain, he could say that he’s -- he’s -- he’s the first, uh -- he could make the claim to be the first -- yeah, the first Main Street black Republican to be the president of the United States. Right? He’s historic too.
In this election cycle, there's a Carson site with the URL

Elsewhere, in comments sections and on message boards, we see the likes of this:

And this:

And then there's a peculiar notion floated by Breitbart's Milo Yiannopoulos:

... Donald Trump ... is, culturally speaking, a terrific fit for black America.... Blacks seem to identify with Trump’s swagger: they put him in enough rap songs, after all. He’s got hip-hop cred and defiant charisma the dreary Obama could never hope to match....

There is a minority war brewing between blacks and Latinos in America, fuelled by the policies and attitudes of a white Left that has forgotten about the civil rights struggle, and Trump is one of the very few, on either side of the political divide, who appears to at least understand the black side of the argument.

Donald Trump would be the real first black president.
What Murdoch tweeted is crazy. But that craziness has deep roots in modern conservatism.


The Media Research Council sees an injustice:
Nets Hype Muslims Targeted in Chapel Hill Shootings 12 Times More Than Christians in Oregon

It’s newsworthy when people of faith are killed by a gunman -- except when they are Christian. The broadcast networks made that clear by the difference between the massive coverage of the shooting of three Muslims in February and the little coverage of how the Oregon shooter reportedly targeted Christians.

“Many have already judged this as a hate crime,” CBS’s Scott Pelley asserted on the Feb. 14 evening news broadcast covering the Chapel Hill shooting. When three Muslim students were killed by an angry neighbor last spring, the broadcast networks jumped to allege this was an anti-Muslim “hate crime” -- bringing that phrase up a whopping 30 times in eight broadcasts.

Compare that to how the broadcast evening news shows treated last week’s shooting in Oregon -- where survivors described the shooter asking students if they were Christian before shooting and killing them.

That essential detail was heavily downplayed by the networks-- who only mentioned it three times in eight broadcasts....
I wrote on more than one occasion that I thought the Chapel Hill murderer had a mix of motives -- a psychologically extreme tendency toward absolutist self-righteousness (about parking, of all things) plus anger about financial difficulties along with his obvious hatred for religion, which was almost certainly directed against the victims because they were so open about their faith.

The MRC tells us:
While the FBI had launched a formal investigation into the matter, neither they nor the local police had determined a motive for the [Chapel Hill] shooting. But that didn’t stop the networks from suggesting that the murders were most likely a hate crime....

Yet when it came to the Oregon shooting, journalists flipped the script. The evening news shows didn’t get an expert to decry the “hate crime” against Christians. CBS actually pre-empted that by specifically bringing on an expert to deny that religion had any aspect to do with the shooting, during their Oct. 2 broadcast. Like Chapel Hill, the investigation in Oregon is still ongoing, so why didn’t the networks downplay the religious aspect both times?
Let me try to answer that.

When we try to determine the attitude of Christopher Harper-Mercer toward religion, all we know is this:
A dating profile published more than three months ago with his email address on the website Spiritual Passions ... described Mr. Harper-Mercer as “Not Religious, Not Religious, but Spiritual,” and it said he belonged to a group called “Doesn’t Like Organized Religion.”
Disliking organized religion is not necessarily the same thing as loathing belief, or loathing a particular belief system -- I've known my share of believers who were disgusted with organized religion. And it's a far cry from the angry atheism of Craig Stephen Hicks, who was arrested for the Chapel Hill shootings:
On Facebook, Hicks presented himself as a libertarian gun enthusiast and an “anti-theist” who wanted “religion to go away.” In one post, he wrote, “The moment that your religion claims any kind of jurisdiction over my experience, you insult me on a level that you can’t even begin to comprehend. Even if your beliefs had substance, the arrogance of that would be insult enough. But the fact that they have no substance, and are merely a transparent raft of delusions and lies, magnifies the insult enormously.”
But didn't Harper-Mercer demand to know whether potential victims were Christian, and single out declared Christians for death? Maybe, maybe not, as a CNN story noted on Monday:
Relatives of two wounded victims have said the gunman asked his victims about their religion before he shot them.

One victim, Cheyeanne Fitzgerald, didn't answer and was shot in the back, her mother said. Another victim, Anastasia Boylan, told her father the gunman asked specifically whether they were Christians.

[Survivor Tracy] Heu also said the gunman asked about religion. But she said it didn't seem to matter, because he shot some people even before he asked.

"I don't think he was really targeting them," she said. "I honestly don't think he was targeting anybody. He just wanted to do it for fun. 'Cause he still shot every single one that he asked. So I don't think he was actually targeting a specific religion."
If you say this was an anti-Christian hate crime, you're saying that Tracy Heu is a liar.

Recall that in Chapel Hill, the victims were three people the shooter knew were Muslims. In Oregon, according to CNN's sources, the murderer shot people he hadn't identified as Christian. And recall that, according to legend, the Columbine killers murdered for religion, even though that turns out to be a myth. But if it was a myth Harper-Mercer believed, maybe he invoked it as a sort of homage to a legendary mass killing. (I also think his decision to spare one potential victim was meant as homage to Dylann Roof in Charleston, who similarly spared one person and told her to "tell everyone" what happened. Mass-killer trivia is cherished by many sick individuals, some of whom later kill.)

One final point: In Chapel Hill, a suspect was arrested. He could be charged with a crime. It mattered whether the authorities determined that the killing was a hate crime. By contrast, Christopher Harper-Mercer didn't survive. He can't be charged.

Harper-Mercer gave his designated survivor a flash drive. Presumably it contained his "manifesto" --- the one that says, according to AP, that he complained about not having a girlfriend, but (as far as we know) said nothing about religion.

But that doesn't matter, I guess. The Media Research Council is still offended.


The mainstream press has treated Trumpmania as an appalling cultural phenomenon, but I've long believed that if Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican presidential race, he'll eventually be deemed respectable by insider journalists and pundits, because (a) those folks love a winner and (b) the Republican Party can't really be rotten to the core, can it?

Today, The Washington Post's Robert Costa tiptoes in the direction of Taking Trump Seriously:
After a summer of dominating the Republican presidential campaign, Donald Trump is moving into a new and uncertain phase that the billionaire businessman acknowledges will be more challenging than any project he has ever undertaken -- even as he views the nomination as now within his reach.

In an hour-long interview with The Washington Post at his 26th-floor office in Trump Tower, the Republican front-runner ruminated on the many obstacles ahead....

Trump laid out for the first time in detail the elements of what will be the second chapter of his 2016 bid, signaling an evolution toward a somewhat more traditional campaign. Trump is preparing his first television ads with a media firm that is new to politics. Melania, his wife, and Ivanka, his daughter, are planning public appearances highlighting women’s health issues to help close Trump’s empathy gap with female voters.

Trump is also publishing a book and planning to roll out policies on reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs and on trade and China’s currency manipulations. And he is deepening his political organization far beyond the early states....
If he acts like a normal candidate, with TV ads made by the usual slicksters and focus-grouped outreach efforts targeted to areas of weakness, not to mention policy documents that can be chewed over by pundits, eventually they'll start writing think pieces asking whether we've all misjudged Trump and whether his policy ignorance masks a Gladwellian "Blink" style of decision-making genius that could potentially serve the Republic better than the tortured efforts of analytical brainiacs like Obama, Carter, and the George W. Bush brain trust. Or something like that. I don't know what the coverage reboot is going to be like, and I don't expect it to come right away -- but I do expect it to come if Trump wins Iowa and New Hampshire, because the press is never, ever going to admit that the GOP has gone stark staring mad.

Maybe the press will say that its opinions of Trump haven't changed -- rather, it's Trump himself who's changed. Judging from Costa's story, this won't be true -- apart from these tactical changes, he still seems like the same old Trump:
His campaign says it has hired a Florida-based advertising firm and Trump said he has proposed several concepts for ads in the works.

“I have such a great concept -- in fact, so good,” Trump said, declining to specify....

The main room [of his campaign headquarters] is a showcase for Trump’s penchant for boastful teasing: a “wall of shame” features downcast photos of the two candidates who have dropped out, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas governor Rick Perry....

Trump claimed credit for keeping Romney out of the 2016 race though he bowed out long before Trump ever became a candidate. Dismissing the suggestion that it was former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s fundraising prowess that kept Romney from the race, Trump insisted, “He got scared away by me! By my mouth.”
And yet it's clear Costa is slowly being won over, like a rom-com heroine who initially hated the guy she's eventually going to fall for:
From behind his desk, with New York’s leafy Central Park over his shoulder, and with no television cameras rolling, Trump presented a less strident and combative persona than the one that has become a familiar presence on television. He was conversational and at ease, even introspective at times....

Throughout the interview, Trump exuded customary aplomb, but nonetheless indicated there are aspects of his performance that he can improve....

Trump’s competitors have suggested that he has little depth on international affairs. After being ridiculed for saying this summer that he gets much of his foreign policy advice by watching military experts on television talk shows, Trump has begun to seek counsel from some generals directly....
Oh yeah -- if he starts winning contests, the press is going to be swept off its feet eventually.


Ben Carson says Muslims shouldn't even try to run from president and that America is a place where Hitler is just over the horizon -- and yet he crushes various Democrats in traditionally blue states, according to a new Quinnipiac poll:
In hypothetical matchups, Democratic frontrunner Clinton drew 45 percent to Carson's 43 percent in Florida, but fell short at 40 percent to 49 percent in both Ohio and Pennsylvania....

The only Republican who tops Biden in any state is Carson, who has the upper hand in Ohio and Pennsylvania, with 46 percent to 42 percent and 47 percent to 42 percent, respectively.
And Bernie Sanders loses to Carson 46%-40% in Florida, 48%-36% in Ohio, and 47%-37% in Pennsylvania.

Among all registered voters, Carson has a net favorable rating of +23% in Ohio, +26% in Pennsylvania, and +21% in Florida. He has the highest net favorable rating of any polled candidate or possible candidate in Florida and Pennsylvania, and the second-highest net favorable rating (two points behind Joe Biden) in Florida.

I don't have any grand theories to explain this. All I can say is: America, are you listening to this man? Have you paid any attention to what he's saying? Or does none of it bother you?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


I'm sure you know that Bobby Jindal posted a rant on his campaign website blaming the recent massacre in Oregon on the shooter's father, as well as on American culture. A lot of commenters have addressed the attack on the father (my favorite response is Kalli Joy Gray's "Bobby Jindal Demands Apology from Oregon Shooter’s Father, for Not Loving Guns Enough," at Wonkette) -- but the culture-war part is also noteworthy, because it's the majority of the rant (the title of which is "We Fill Our Culture with Garbage, and We Reap the Result").

What's up? What does Jindal hope to accomplish with a jeremiad like this?
* We glorify sick and senseless acts of violence in virtually every element of our pop culture, and we have been doing that for at least a generation.

* Our movies and TV shows feature a continuous stream of grotesque killing of every kind imaginable. And this is true of virtually every genre, from horror to drama to comedy.

* We celebrate and document every kind of deviant behavior and we give out awards to producers who can push the envelope as far as possible. Rape, torture, murder, mass murder, all are cinematic achievements.

* Our music does the same thing, we promote evil, we promote the degradation of women, we flaunt the laws of God and common decency and we promote it all and we flood our young people with it.

* We have generations of young boys who were raised on video games where they compete with other young boys around the country and the world to see who can kill the most humans. We make it so fun, so realistic, so sensational.
In case you've forgotten, Jindal is only 44 years old. He's actually 13 days younger than Marco Rubio, who boasts of his love of Tupac -- and is doing much better in the polls. (Nationwide, Rubio's at 9.9% in the Real Clear Politics average, while Jindal is at a woeful 0.6%.) A lot of middle-aged Republicans grew up on rap, violent video games, and sex on cable. Why does Jindal think this message will sell to Republican voters?

I suspect Jindal is buying into some ridiculous conventional wisdom about how Republicans pick a president. The New York Times laid it out in a story yesterday:
Yes, 15 Republicans are still seeking the nomination. But in reality not all are competing for the same voters. They are running in what Iowa strategists call “lanes” -- one for candidates appealing primarily to evangelical Christians, a second for outsiders and Tea Party types, and a third for business-oriented conservatives.

Historically, Republicans have tried to win one of the proverbial “three tickets out of Iowa” in the state’s caucuses. This year, however, with such a crowded field, the three tickets may not be the top three finishers over all, according to some strategists, but the top candidate from each lane.
Do people seriously believe this? Do they seriously believe that being a niche candidate who wins in the evangelical Christian "lane" can actually give you a serious shot at the nomination?

In my adult life, it's never worked -- not for Pat Robertson or Alan Keyes or Gary Bauer or Mike Huckabee. Rick Santorum did best, but he had a billionaire backing him, and even so, he only won six states. (Mitt Romney won 39, plus D.C. and three territories.) George W. Bush showed great strength among evangelicals in 2000, but was also an Establishment favorite. Evangelical niche players never win.

I say this, and I'm sure I'm right, but I'm just an idiot blogger, while the people who believe this "three lanes" nonsense are political pros. So Jindal probably believes it, too.

In Iowa, where the GOP electorate is disproportionately evangelical, Jindal is, ADMITTEDLY, running better than he is nationwide -- but that'S not saying much. (This morning Jindal posted an exultant tweet boasting that the latest Iowa poll has him in fifth place. Yippee!) I suppose Jindal thinks that a strong, or strongish, showing in Iowa will be followed up by wins in the South -- but they like tough, bellicose candidates in the South way more than they like Jesus, so of course Donald Trump is going great guns in Dixie.

This is why I think Jindal is still playing the culture-war pander game. If so, it's for for no good reason.


Does this sound crazy to you?
In one of his signature Facebook Q&As Monday night, Ben Carson again weighed in on the Oregon shooting, writing that he had operated on victims of gun violence "but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."
How about this?
"If I had a little kid in kindergarten somewhere I would feel much more comfortable if I knew on that campus there was a police officer or somebody who was trained with a weapon," [Carson] says. Including the teacher? "If the teacher was trained in the use of that weapon and had access to it, I would be much more comfortable if they had one than if they didn't."
Or this?
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson speculated on Tuesday about what he would have done had he been at the Oregon college where a gunman opened fire last week.

The Republican presidential candidate weighed in on the hypothetical during a "Fox & Friends" interview.

"I'm glad you asked that question. Because not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me," Carson said.

He speculated that he would have organized a response.

"I would say, 'Hey guys! Everybody attack him! He may shoot me but he can't get us all!'" Carson exclaimed.
If some or all of that sounds insane to you, then you must not be a Republican. In a sane country -- in a sane party -- the notion that gun ownership is more precious than the lives of innocent shooting victims, including children, would be a campaign-ender.

In the GOP, it's almost certain that Carson is winning the week with remarks like these. (He's also beaten Hillary Clinton in three straight polls, so the rest of us either accept this kind of talk or are too numb to react with appropriate outrage.)

Carson has already been gaining on Donald Trump in the aftermath of his declaration that Muslims are Constitution-hating religious fanatics unless proven otherwise and thus aren't suited to run for president, and in the aftermath of his decision to launch the #IAmAChristian hashtag campaign in response to the Oregon massacre. (It's an article of faith on the right that the Oregon massacre was specifically aimed at Christians, even though, as I've noted, there are reasons for serious skepticism about that.) Carson beat Donald Trump by 7 points in an Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll released Friday, the day of the massacre; the Muslim-bashing almost certainly can be credited with propelling Carson into the lead. Carson is also tied with Trump in Pennsylvania according to a new Mercyhurst University poll, and a national poll sponsored by the Club for Growth (which, it should be noted, loathes Trump) has Carson leading Trump by 5 points.

Expect more of this, because America is a depraved country, and the GOP is an especially depraved party. The gun talk will meet with widespread cheers on the right -- and it probably won't hurt him at all in the middle.


UPDATE: How does the increasingly tone-deaf New York Times summarize at all this heartless trolling and faux-swagger? This way:
Like many Republican presidential candidates who have sought to express sympathy for the victims while maintaining their support for gun rights, Mr. Carson appeared to struggle to address the issue with sensitivity.
Yes, that was his problem, right? He wanted to be sensitive, but it was just such a struggle.


Via Breitbart and Mediaite, I see that the right has a new hero:
David Jaques, publisher of the Roseburg Beacon, told Bill O’Reilly tonight President Obama should not come to the Oregon town after he politicized the tragic shooting last week.

... the president is reportedly traveling to Roseburg, but Jaques made it clear to O’Reilly plenty of residents would not be on board with that.

He said Obama’s “not welcome” in Roseburg because people think he will “grandstand for political purposes.”

“He wants to come to our community,” Jaques said, “and stand on the corpses of our loved ones and make some kind of political point.”
Jaques's paper, The Roseburg Beacon, is a small, conservative local publication that has been known to publish conspiratorial crackpottery.

On Jaques's personal Facebook page, he favorites a group called Americans for the Restoration of Freedom, which posts items such as a claim that Hurricane Joaquin was the product of "geoengineering," as well as an assertion that the Justice Department's Strong Cities Network is an anti-Constitution UN plot. There's also, um, this:

In 2010, Jaques was a key consultant to the unsuccessful congressional campaign of Art Robinson, a candidate much mocked for his interest in urine:
A candidate for Congress is soliciting mass urine samples from Oregonians as part of his day job as a scientist, a move some see as a novel approach to improving modern medicine and others call just another odd move in an offbeat political career.

Art Robinson, a Republican making his third bid to unseat Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, last week sent out thousands of fliers across Oregon asking for volunteer urine samples.

Robinson, co-founder of the nonprofit Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, said he is hoping to get 15,000 samples to help calibrate a machine that could use urine profiles to help predict if a person will develop degenerative diseases such as cancer.
This in itself wouldn't be troubling -- Robinson is, after all, a scientist -- if it weren't for his other crackpot notions:
In a monthly newsletter called Access to Energy, Robinson has used his academic credentials to float theories on everything from AIDS to public schooling to climate change (which he believes is a myth). In perhaps his most famous missive, Robinson once proposed using airplanes to disperse radioactive waste on Oregon homes, in the hopes of building up resistance to degenerative illnesses.

"All we need do with nuclear waste is dilute it to a low radiation level and sprinkle it over the ocean -- or even over America after hormesis is better understood and verified with respect to more diseases," Robinson wrote in 1997. He added, "If we could use it to enhance our own drinking water here in Oregon, where background radiation is low, it would hormetically enhance our resistance to degenerative diseases. Alas, this would be against the law." ...

In another essay, he called public education "the most widespread and devastating form of child abuse and racism in the United States," leaving people "so mentally handicapped that they cannot be responsible custodians of the energy technology base or other advanced accomplishments of our civilization."

Robinson theorized that the government had overhyped the AIDS epidemic in order to force social engineering experiments on those aforementioned public school students....
A decade ago, Jaques became president of One Nation United, which appears to be an Astroturf group ostensibly dedicated to Native American advocacy, but actually acting as a front for corporations seeking to limit Natives' rights:
At a recent Douglas County Commission meeting, ONU Executive Director Barb Lindsay described the group as a "nonprofit, nonpartisan public educational umbrella group" formed to "defend private property rights, free enterprise and the rule of law."

... Opponents of the group, including Indian tribes in New York, Oklahoma and Oregon, say it is a racist front group for industries that compete with tribally owned businesses in those states, such as the Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers' Association.

ONU began commanding attention in Oregon when Douglas County Commissioner Marilyn Kittelman joined its campaign for caps on tribal land trusts. And Kittelman's recall campaign manager, Douglas County Planning Commissioner David Jaques, recently became ONU's president.

... Jaques acknowledged that ONU is lobbying Congress to cap tribal land trusts. "But these spurious charges that this is some kind of hate or racist group?

That's insane, like saying the National Federal of Business is a hate group," he said.

Every page of ONU's August 2006 newsletter contains stories about what it calls "misguided" federal Indian policy. One article, for example, says: "The tribes' 'separate-but-favored' status has protected individual tribal members from the predations to which they, historically, were victim. But the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act transformed that shield into a sword that has been thrust into established, non-tribal communities whose citizens are left defenseless."

Sue Shaffer, chairman of the Cow Creek Band of the Tribes of the Lower Umpqua, called ONU a "national hate group" that has tried to stir up resentment here over the Cow Creeks' legal removal of about 2,000 acres from county tax rolls....
All in all, the guy seems like an ideal right-wing hero.