Friday, December 28, 2012
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Get Rid of the Electoral College!!!
Let’s Kill the Electoral College So We Never Have to Pay Attention to Ohio and Florida Again
And so this particular miserable election has come down to essentially three states: Florida, Virginia and Ohio. But mostly Ohio. Ohio is a depressing place  already, as is much of the post-industrial Midwest, and this attention is not making them any happier. Florida is full of lunatics and run by criminals. Virginia might elect George Allen again. This is no way to run a country.
Thanks to the Electoral College, and our bizarre system of assigning electoral votes, and our decentralized and easily demogogued system of determining who gets to vote, and when, and how, the minority of voters who show up to vote in midterms and off-year elections choose the men who control the ballots and the polling places, and those  men  (and, once, Katherine Harris) do everything they can to ensure that people have a hard time of it.
(It’s depressingly rare that presidential elections end up riding primarily on the results in states with pristine histories of clean and fair elections. Though I heard Romney’s “expanding the map” to Minnesota, so who knows.)
At least this year the important states are rather large (if New Hampshire ends up being the deciding state I swear to god I’m moving to Switzerland) and reasonably diverse. But they’re not as large and diverse as the states that have been complete afterthoughts in presidential politics for a generation — New York, California, Texas — and the prominence of Ohio in particular fuels the gross Beltway press fetishism for the precious votes of Real America (white, rural or suburban America).
A purely popular vote-based election, in which Obama actually tried to turn out supporters in Crown Heights and Berkeley while Romney barnstormed the old Confederacy for three months, would definitely horrify Washington mandarins devoted to the Great White Independent, but it might help battle the popular perception that winning with blacks, Hispanics and young people doesn’t “count.”  (It would also give slightly more power to minorities in “red” states and those oh-so-bitter conservatives in “blue” ones.) We already have a form of government that heavily favors rural areas and small states — the next senator from the state of Nebraska will effectively have veto power over all the priorities of every member of California’s entire congressional delegation — and yet we constantly wonder why Americans, especially young ones, are so apathetic about actually voting.
So let’s abolish the Electoral College, please. Ohio will probably be grateful. (Then we can work on abolishing the Senate, expanding the House, instituting ranked or runoff voting nationwide, and establishing simple national suffrage.) (Seriously, will some idiot centrist billionaire throw money at those things, please.)
Thursday, September 20, 2012
This is from today's, 9/20/12, Progress Report:
Real Talk on Redistribution
“For all we know, Mitt Romney could be one of those who have paid no federal income tax. Thousands of families making more than $1 million pay nothing in federal income taxes each year… Is Mitt Romney among those? We’ll never know, since he refuses to release tax returns from the years before he was running for president.”
According to a Tax Policy Center analysis, Romney’s plan would increase after-tax income for those making more than $200,000 annually, while lowering it for everyone else:
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
From addictinginfo.org:24 Policies That Republicans Supported BEFORE They Were Against Them
Since President Obama took the oath of office in January 2009, Republicans have reversed their stances on many different policies and beliefs. Here are 24 of them.
1. Health Care Mandates) Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act by Democrats, Republicans widely supported the idea of an individual health care insurance mandate, Newt Gingrich being perhaps the chief supporter. Republicans have always preached about how people need to take responsibility for themselves, and now that a law exists that makes people take responsibility, the GOP is rejecting it simply on the grounds that President Obama and the Democrats passed it.
2. The Nuclear START Treaty) Republicans shamelessly filibustered the ratification of the Obama START Treaty for quite a period of time and criticized it tremendously and continue to try and find ways to circumvent the treaty today. What Republicans conveniently forget is that Ronald Reagan, the man that Republicans worship like a God, negotiated the very first START Treaty which was signed by yet another Republican, George H. W. Bush in 1991. That treaty expired in 2009 so President Obama negotiated a new one to continue the Reagan legacy. But since President Obama negotiated this treaty, Republicans retreated from Reagan’s policy faster than the decade it took to create the START Treaty in the first place.
3. Dream Act) Immigration reform has been touted by Republicans for decades now. Reagan granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants in the 1980′s. Most recently, Republicans worked on immigration reform under the Bush Administration and failed. President Bush and Senator John McCain both supported immigration reform and were willing to cross the aisle to work with Democrats, most notably Edward Kennedy. All of that work and bipartisanship ceased after the 2008 Election. Staunchly opposed to President Obama and anything his administration supports, Republicans turned their backs on immigration reform in favor of militarizing the border and laws that violate the civil rights of Hispanics. Obama’s Dream Act would do much that Reagan would approve of, but Republicans refuse hear anything of it.
4. TARP) Republicans supported TARP when they helped pass it in response to the economic collapse in 2008. President Bush even signed the legislation into law. But since it’s been up to the guiding hands of President Obama to deal with TARP, Republicans have since revoked their support and have been highly critical even as they take credit for it when presenting stimulus checks to their local constituents. The fact is, TARP is successful because President Obama oversaw it and Republicans hate that fact.
5. Bail Out of Auto Industry) Republicans once supported this too but abandoned it once President Obama called for it. The auto industry is a vital manufacturing sector that supports millions of American jobs and Republicans WANTED the industry to fail simply because President Obama wanted the bail out. If it had failed, Republicans would have blamed President Obama for not supporting the American auto industry. The bail out has been a resounding success with most of the money plus interest paid back to the taxpayers. Mitt Romney has since tried to take credit for the idea because it has been so successful.
6. Israel Going Back To Pre-1967 Borders) Many Presidents have suggested this, even George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. But once President Obama repeated it, Republicans immediately denounced the President and threw their support to Israel’s President. This action by Republicans is totally unprecedented. It is reprehensible for American politicians to support a foreign leader more than the American President. Imagine if the Republican Party had overtly supported Hitler over FDR during World War Two. The only reason Republicans are rejecting President Obama’s plan is because they cannot bring themselves to endorse any idea he suggests, even if it is a Republican one.
7. Gun Control) Republicans overwhelmingly reject any and all gun control measures today. Which is very strange considering Ronald Reagan himself supported the Brady Handgun Act. But, it’s still true. Republicans did indeed support gun control measures in the past. It’s different now. Today’s intolerant, prejudiced, and extremist Republican Party is only against gun control now because they believe there needs to be a war against liberals and minority groups. It’s all about fear and war.
8. Public Education) Even the Founding Fathers believed in education for all. Every Republican President in United States history has been supportive of the public education system in this country. Ronald Reagan campaigned on axing the Department of Education but not only did he NOT eliminate it, he amped up its budget. It is only now that President Obama seeks to improve the education system that Republicans are against public education. When President Bush sought to improve public education, Republicans were on board but now that Obama is President, Republicans have decided that all public schools are evil liberal institutions that must be destroyed.
9. Infrastructure Spending) Republicans have always believed in strong infrastructure, until now. Republicans used the power of the federal government to build the railroads in the 1860′s and 1870′s, the Panama Canal in the beginning of the 20th century, and the interstate highway system in the 1950′s. Yet when President Obama called for new infrastructure spending to improve America’s crumbling roads and bridges and to improve our rail lines, Republicans immediately reversed their long-held belief in a strong American infrastructure. Why? Because they hate President Obama and oppose everything he believes in, even if it was once a part of the Republican platform.
10. Child Labor Laws) This one is surprising. Republicans were the ones that championed child labor laws in the first place. Starting in 1852, in the once Republican state of Massachusetts, child labor laws have been fought for by both parties. The only opponent of child labor laws has traditionally been big business. Republicans tried to pass a Constitutional amendment in 1924 and it didn’t succeed. It wasn’t until Democrats passed the Fair Labor Standards Act that child labor laws became federal law. Republicans oppose child labor laws now because of their deep ties with corporations. The goal of the corporate world is to find cheap labor and because President Obama is against huge corporations, Republicans must stand with the corporations, even if that means killing child labor laws.
11. Civil Rights) Republicans were once the champions of civil rights as well. They ended slavery and adopted the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. They splintered over the Civil Rights Act in 1964, although it was a Republican led Supreme Court that ruled in the Brown v Board of Education case, and have become more and more opposed to civil rights ever since. President Obama has called for increased civil rights and because of that, Republicans now oppose civil rights for everyone except Christian white males.
12. Environmental Protection) Originally championed by Theodore Roosevelt, Republicans used to support efforts to protect the environment. Over the last century, however, that support has reversed. Republicans even once supported the environment in the 1970′s when Nixon created the EPA, but no longer. Republicans are now in complete support of the irresponsibility of the oil and coal industry and want to open the entire American coastline and even federally protected lands to drilling and mining.
Republicans even used to support cap-and-trade. The first George Bush signed legislation in 1990 that implemented the cap-and-trade system and many Republicans still do support cap-and-trade. But because President Obama supports it, most Republicans are now against it.
13. Deficit Spending) This one is big. Republicans have employed deficit spending since the Reagan years and abused it during the Bush administration to pass the conservative agenda and to fund wars. Reagan doubled the national debt and George W. Bush proceeded to double it again. But because Democrats controlled the White House and the Congress from 2008 to 2010, Republicans completely reversed their stance on deficit spending and still oppose deficit spending solely on the grounds that a Republican isn’t President. If a Republican were President right now, you can bet the farm that they would abuse deficit spending once again to slam the destructive anti-middle class, anti-poor, anti-women, and anti-America agenda through Congress with no thought about fiscal responsibility whatsoever.
14. Federal Reserve) The Federal Reserve is now a target for most Republicans, which is puzzling because it was a Republican idea. Proposed by Republican leader Nelson Aldrich to organize and regulate the banking system and to enforce monetary policy, and thus stabilize our financial system, the Federal Reserve Act was signed into law by Democratic President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Republicans now want to dismantle or weaken the Federal Reserve because President Obama needs it to enforce Dodd-Frank which will make banks more responsible and accountable, and will protect consumers.
15. Women’s Rights) The women’s rights movement was born in and grew with the Republican Party in the mid 1800′s. Many Republicans supported voting rights for women although to pass the 19th Amendment it took women threatening to cause Republican losses in the 1920 Election to persuade them to help pass it in Congress. As women gained more equality, they also demanded equal pay for equal work and reproductive rights. Ronald Reagan legalized abortion as Governor of California in the 1960′s and a moderate conservative Supreme Court handed down the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. Today’s Republican Party is now waging a war against women and the harder Democrats and President Obama fight for women’s rights, the harder Republicans will fight to eliminate them because of orders from white Christian extremists.
16. End Of Life Counseling) Republicans referred to this as “death panels” in 2009 in response to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. But Republicans wholeheartedly supported end of life counseling in their own 2003 Medicare bill. Both of the Bush Presidents supported end of life counseling and even Sarah Palin herself supported it before she suddenly turned against it. In fact, Republicans had supported end of life counseling for decades. So what happened? Easy. President Obama supports it, so Republicans are now against it. It’s really that simple. And petty.
17. Financial Disclosure) Republicans were all for this in 2002 when they passed and President Bush signed McCain-Feingold into law. Campaign financing laws have always been supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, until now. Because of their hatred of President Obama, who supports campaign finance laws, and their desperation for absolute power and authority, Republicans are now completely against financial disclosure. They have allied themselves with the corporate world over the American people in their effort to steer elections their direction and do that, campaign finance laws must not exist. That is why the activist conservative Supreme Court struck down the laws to begin with.
18. Minimum Wage) The way Republicans have been talking about abolishing the minimum wage, you would think they’ve always been against it, right? Wrong. 82 House Republicans and 39 Senate Republicans joined the Democratic majority in passing the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. President Bush signed the bill into law. It is only now that President Obama stands with the American workers that Republicans oppose the minimum wage on behalf of their corporate masters, most notably, Koch Industries. If Republicans were so against the minimum wage, they would not have voted to raise it. Three times.
19. Military Intervention In The Middle East) This should really convince you that Republicans are simply opposing policies because a black President supports them. Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 all supported military intervention in the Middle East yet when President Obama uses the military to intervene in Libya, Republicans all of a sudden become doves? They’ve really revealed themselves with this policy reversal. The fact that under President Obama, Libya successfully overthrew their dictator without one American life being lost must infuriate the GOP.
20. Abortion) It may sound really far-fetched but there are many pro-choice conservatives out there and some politicians are part of that group. Take Ronald Reagan for instance. He made abortion legal in California as Governor of the state. And most recently, it was discovered that extreme right-winger Rick Santorum’s wife had an abortion to save her own life. In my opinion, that means Santorum is for the procedure when his wife’s life is on the line, but every other woman needs to die rather than exercise their right to an abortion which was ruled to exist in Roe v Wade by a conservative leaning court in 1973.
21. Economic Development Administration) Never heard of this you say? This program provides grants to local projects which have created jobs. Republicans such as Susan Collins, Chuck Grassely, and even John Cornyn have supported it in the past. Cornyn stated in March 2010 that funds from an EDA grant “would pave the way for the creation of new jobs and business opportunities, which will strengthen the region’s economy,” according to a local East Texas NBC news affiliate. But now that the GOP plan to crash the economy on purpose is in full swing, Republicans are now calling for an end to the EDA.
22. Lower Taxes) Republican do support lower taxes, except they only support them for the wealthy, NOT the rest of us. Even as they crusade to eliminate taxes on corporations and the wealthy, Republicans fully support a new proposal that would actually raise taxes on the rest of us. And guess who opposes it? That’s right. President Obama. Republicans usually crusaded for lower taxes for everyone, but since they support class warfare now, they have partly reversed themselves.
23. Medicare) I’m aware that Republicans initially opposed Medicare when it was passed, but since its passage into law, Republicans have largely defended it, especially when they try to pander to senior citizens for votes. But if Republicans really wanted to kill Medicare, they would have actually done it when Ronald Reagan was in office. Reagan opposed Medicare when it was created but then did something quite unexpected as President. He saved it. By saving Medicare, Republicans practically endorsed it. Even Theodore Roosevelt supported national health care. And now the GOP has come full circle once again by opposing it, and are trying to slaughter it and the millions of seniors that rely on the popular health care program. Why? Because President Obama is in favor of keeping Medicare around for a very long time and Medicare represents just how popular government-run universal health care can be. So technically speaking, Republicans were against Medicare before they were for it before they were against it.
24. Social Security) Social Security is popular with everybody, even the staunchest right wingers. Ronald Reagan and Milton Freidman supported the New Deal programs of the 1930′s and even Ayn Rand collected Social Security up to her dying breath. Ronald Reagan even saved this program too by raising payroll taxes. This action also saved Medicare as it is part of the Social Security Act. The idea to privatize Social Security has popped up many times but has been met with negative reactions by a majority of the people so those ideas usually die in infancy. President Bush wanted to privatize it, but never did. Republicans had control of Congress and the White House from 2001-2006. If they had wanted to kill Social Security, they would have done so. But now all of a sudden they feel now is the time to privatize it, even as big bankers have proven that they are untrustworthy with money. Oh, and President Obama supports Social Security. Just another reason for Republicans to hate it.
Undoubtedly, one could add even more to the list but now you know what policies Republicans once supported and why they are now against those very same policies. If we take Republican claims to love America and their claims that the Founders were Republicans seriously, we could also now say that Republicans were for America before they were against her.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Our Climate Of Extremes!!!
Our Climate Of Extremes
In a speech this month at the Aspen Institute, Vice President Al Gore passionately excoriated the anti-science propaganda of the climate pollution industry. He denounced the decades-long effort by top carbon dioxide polluters to pollute the public’s knowledge of the growing threat of climate change. “There’s no longer a shared reality on an issue like climate even though the very existence of our civilization is threatened,” Gore concluded, after rejecting the denier memes as “the same crap over and over and over again.” As the planet’s climate grows increasingly disastrous, the world’s polluters are digging in. Top multi-national corporations, from Johnson & Johnson to Walmart, fund the American Legislative Exchange Council, a lobbying front group that touts the “benefits of carbon dioxide.” The Republican candidates for president are either long-time deniers of climate science — like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) — or have cast aside their previous support for carbon cap-and-trade systems, like former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R), and Tim Pawlenty.
EXTREME CLIMATE DISASTERS: With fossil pollution superheating the world’s atmosphere, it has been one of the most extreme years to date for climate in the United States in recorded history, and it was previewed by the extreme weather in 2010 that had the most FEMA disaster declarations ever . After the winter’s blizzards and the spring’s floods, it was the hottest July on record in Oklahoma and in communities throughout the United States. July was so hot “that just by plotting the location of each daily heat record that was broken, a nearly complete image of the contiguous United States is visible,” reports NOAA. “Almost 9,000 daily records were broken or tied last month.” And the National Resources Defense Council reported more than 2,000 “code orange” air quality alerts, or times when it is dangerous for children, older adults, or people with breathing problems to be outside, in the first seven months of the year. In fact, every state in the union saw record high temperatures in July. Texas is now in its worst-ever one-year drought. “Corn, soybean and spring-wheat harvests in the U.S., the world’s largest exporter, will be smaller than the government forecast last month after a damaging heat wave.” “Arctic sea ice is thinning, on average, four times faster than the models say, and it’s drifting twice as quickly.” The global oceans continue to store ever more heat. “The Arctic is all but certain to be virtually ice free within two decades,” Center for American Progress senior fellow Joe Romm writes.
EXTREME CLIMATE DENIERS: How did the right wing respond to the record-shattering climate disasters? “Record-breaking Heat Wave Was a Myth,” blared FoxNews.com. “Global Warming Theory Faces Sudden Collapse.” Fox News also attacked SpongeBob SquarePants for “pushing a global warming agenda,” and hosted denier Joe Bastardi, who cited “the first law of thermodynamics” and “La Chatelier’s principle” to argue that the greenhouse effect isn’t physically possible. Texas and Oklahoma are the states hit hardest by climate disasters this year. The oil-rich states are also dominated by politicians who deny the existence of global warming, and who rail against science-based policy to deal with our extreme climate. Governors Rick Perry (R-TX) and Mary Fallin (R-OK) have both issued calls for prayer as the official policy response to their historic heat wave and drought. But still the drought got worse. In a USA Today op-ed this week, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) reflected upon the “devastating” and “historic” Texas drought. He said that policy makers should ignore “flawed” climate science, then joined Perry and Fallin: “A prayer for rain, however, would be appreciated.”
EXTREME CLIMATE FUTURE: “If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur,” the American Physical Society concluded in 2007. “We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” Fortunately, some leaders are trying to prepare humanity to survive our increasingly catastrophic future. “The climate is clearly changing, with increasing evidence this climate change is leading to more frequent severe weather events,” Trevor Maynard, who heads the office of exposure management at Lloyd’s, said in a new report on long-range forecasting for the insurance industry. “As we suffer through severe droughts, more intense rainfall and flooding, and sea level rise along the coast, the nation’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure is coming under increasing levels of stress,” Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) announced, with the introduction of legislation to “help drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities prepare for the impacts of climate-related risks.” “The weather is getting worse and more violent,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) recognized at a recent hearing. “The federal government needs to do more to be ready to protect federal assets and provide disaster assistance on an increasing frequency.” Citizens are also rising up with greater urgency, blocking mountaintop removal, protesting at the White House, and organizing global events in September to get the planet moving toward a sustainable future.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Five Republican FACTS!!!
5 Republican Facts That Every American Should Be Mad About
There is a lot about the Republican Party that could make you gag. And to narrow it down to only a few specific topics is a tough chore. Here are 5 reasons that Americans should get fired up and start taking action:
1. Ronald Reagan was AWFUL.
The golden boy and savior of the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan , is often made out to be the best thing this country has had in our history. What you won’t hear on right-wing TV and radio like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh is that Reagan nearly tripled the national debt. He lowered the top tax rate from 70% in his first year down to 50% in 1984 and by the time he left office in January of 1989 it was at only 28%. The code name “Reaganomics” was used to describe the idea of “trickle down” or “supply side economics”. They told Americans that giving tax breaks to the wealthiest members of our country would create jobs and that the money would simply trickle down. However, the majority of jobs that were created were sent over seas and the so-called job creators put their money in off shore bank accounts. Or simply placed their wealth in stocks, bonds and real estate and paid a capital gains tax rate of only 15%, the same as a greeter at Wal-Mart. Add in selling nuclear arms to terrorists, the busting up of middle class unions, closing psychiatric wards-leaving the mentally ill to walk on the streets, and raising taxes on the middle class 11 times, I think it’s safe to say that the “golden boy” was nothing more than fools gold.
2. Universal Health Care could have happened in 1993.
In 1993 health care reform was all the rage. President Bill Clinton placed his wife, the First Lady Hillary Clinton, as the face of the program. Promising all Americans to finally receive the care that many other nations had, Hilary Clinton tried to drive this message home not just to average Americans but also spent plenty of time in Congress. A noted exchange with Dick Armey showed that the First Lady had the tough skin to stick it out with the “big boys”. However, due to her inexperience and lack of support from members of her own party, the bill never even got voted on. The far right screamed socialism and the Democrats were, as usual, too scared to come to her defense. Those on the right struck fear in the hearts of conservatives so much that the First Lady had to wear a bullet proof vest during her Health Care bus tour.
3. Medicare should be covering all of us by now, if LBJ had his way.
In 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Social Security Act of 1965 as add-ons to the existing Social Security bill, he had in mind full universal health care for all Americans. Originally, LBJ wanted to lower the Medicare eligibility age every 10 years by 10 years. Continuing each decade until every American was covered; Medicare would have included all of us. However, with big time politicians being bought off by the insurance companies, that dream was never lived out. And as middle class Americans struggle to find care, those insurance companies and politicians continue to live their “American Dream”.
4. ”Big” government is NOT the problem.
From moderates to extremists, every conservative can agree on one thing. Government is the enemy. From Ronald Reagan’s famous quote to the loud mouths on talk radio, the idea of Government in your life has been drilled into people’s heads as a negative. What most of these Americans don’t realize is how much they use and like a strong government. The seniors and disabled who yell about the supposed “Socialized Takeover” enjoy great “socialized” programs like Social Security and Medicare. The unemployed are happy to collect their checks and the low-income earners who vote conservative will gladly take advantage of Medicaid to help pay for their healthcare bills. I wonder where those people send their kids to school? If it’s not to a private school they might want to pipe down. Government isn’t there to run peoples’ lives, it is there to help every member in our society when they need it the most. Let’s regulate the people at the top to keep them from running away with everything all at the same time and we’ll create a fair and safe environment for everyone to live in. If you don’t like it, move to Somalia.
5. The Bush Tax Cuts are even worse than you thought.
Continuing on with “Reaganomics”, George Bush enacted his “Bush Tax Cuts” in 2001 and 2003. According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, they estimated a loss in revenue over a 10 year period of just under $3 trillion. If you include the interest that needs to be paid, you can add another $606 billion, for a total of $3.6 trillion. As Republicans forced President Obama’s hand in extending these cuts for 2 more years, the country will see a loss of revenue of $561 billion over the next decade. In addition to the loss in revenue, the people who were promised to benefit from these tax cuts haven’t felt it. As with Reagan, under Bush, the wealthiest members of our country took the tax cuts and pocketed the money. While the average middle class American took the few hundred dollars extra they received and paid their electric or cable bill with it. The Bush tax cuts need to be eliminated ASAP or we could be in more trouble than we thought.
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Friday, April 01, 2011
Trump is an IDIOT!!!
It wasn't long ago that multi-millionaire real estate mogul and NBC's Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump considered running a somewhat credible presidential campaign. In 2000, he contemplated a third-party run as the nominee for the Reform Party, and in preparation, laid out a presidential platform that covered various issue areas, including the national deficit, Social Security, U.S. trade policy and campaign finance reform. This time around, however, Trump is taking a different tack. Ever since "The Donald" first floated the idea that he might seek the Republican Party's nomination to run against President Obama in 2012, he has dabbled in nearly every discredited far-right conspiracy theory in a transparent attempt to attract attention and appease the right-wing base.
GOING BIRTHER: Despite overwhelming proof that President Obama was born in Hawaii, it has taken Trump little more than a week to transition from having "just a little doubt" about Obama's birth certificate to becoming a full-fledged birther. After first raising the issue on his March 22 appearance on Good Morning America, Trump escalated his birther nonsense by telling the Daily Caller that he would release his own birth certificate, a clear attempt to make Obama's birth a major campaign issue. He then followed through, only to find out that it wasn't an official birth certificate. And even after conservatives like presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty denounced birtherism, Trump doubled down. He questioned the idea that Obama's parents could have taken out a newspaper ad celebrating his birth, telling Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, "Nelson Rockefeller doesn't put announcements. I've never seen one." O'Reilly admonished Trump for his birther rant, saying his own investigation found two birth notifications in Hawaii newspapers. That's when Trump officially went off the deep end, suggesting Obama's family faked the entire ordeal: "I grew up with Wall Street Geniuses. What they do in terms of fraud, and how they change documents." O'Reilly responded incredulously: "There couldn't have been a sophisticated (conspiracy). What is he, Baby Jesus?"
RIGHT WING GREATEST HITS: On O'Reilly's show, Trump chose to tout another topic popular among fringe right-wingers, transitioning his birther stance into outright Islamophobia. "There's something on that birth (certificate), maybe religion, maybe it says he's a Muslim, I don't know," Trump said. And he hardly stopped there. In an apparent effort to keep up with former pizza company official Herman Cain, the most brazenly anti-Islam candidate on the GOP side, Trump harped about the world's "Muslim problem." Surely, he had some sort of high-level intelligence alerting him to this problem, right? Not quite. "All you have to do is turn on your television," he said. "You know it, and I know it." Part of that Muslim problem, according to Trump, is the President's policy toward Libya. In an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, Trump pushed the unsubstantiated right-wing theory that Libyan rebels "are closely associated with Iran. And they're closely associated with al Qaeda." In an effort to complete his transformation into a right-wing conspiracy theorist, Trump also pushed the idea that Obama's memoir, "Dreams from My Father," was written by Bill Ayers, and that the Chinese were out to "strip (America) of everything they can strip us of." He's also anti-gay marriage, for no apparent reason. Trump: "I just don't feel good about it."
RATINGS BOON: After Trump's birther discussion with O'Reilly, former Bush strategist Karl Rove said he thought Trump's approach was "a mistake. It will marginalize him." But is it a mistake? In a GOP field that already features two fringe candidates (Cain and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann) and will before long become crowded with multiple other candidates, perhaps Trump is attempting to carve out a niche among the voters on the right edge of the party. Or, perhaps, a millionaire with an instinct for exploiting interests to bolster his pocketbook (think Miss USA or "You're fired!") has figured out a way to occupy the spotlight early in the race and is using it for his own self-gain. Indeed, the ratings for Celebrity Apprentice were dismal early in the season. But with Trump making numerous appearances on both morning network and evening cable TV programs, the show's ratings have suddenly spiked. Either way, it says quite a lot about the sad state of the modern Republican Party that someone like Trump can exploit GOP voters for either electoral or personal gain by running as fast as he can to the farthest right fringe of the party.