Wingnut Week In Review: March Madness

March Madness is upon us, in more ways than one. We know that right-wingers will howl with outrage over anything President Obama does — from using Air Force One to encouraging students to stay in school, and vacationing in Hawaii in stead of Pigeon Forge. So it’s no surprise that conservatives are losing it over President Obama’s March Madness picks.

After all, this president loves basketball the way George W. Bush loved clearing brush. He makes his March Madness picks every year. And right-wingers freak out over it every year.

This year, Rush Limbaugh led the chorus of complaint.

Limbaugh was joined by Fox News’ “The Five.”

Brietbart’s Daniel Flynn added, “Pieces of Ukraine are falling apart and the health care plan’s a mess. But we finally have a president who really knows basketball, and for the next three weeks that’s all that matters. Thank goodness for distractions.” Never mind that George W. Bush didn’t let his own war get in the way of his golf game.

Here’s the rest of this week’s “March Madness,” from some of your favorite right-wingers.

Wingnut Week In Review: Living for the “Inner City”

This week Rep. Paul Ryan took the cake. After debuting his embarrassing copy-and-paste job on the war on poverty last week, only to get his knuckles rapped by the very scholars whose work he cribbed, Ryan outdid himself with a clumsy bit of dog whistle politics blaming black “inner city culture” for poverty.

This isn’t the first time Ryan has choked on his dog whistle. On the campaign trail he told a reporter that the solution to America’s “crime problem” was to go into inner cities and “teach people good discipline, good character. Later, he blamed “urban voters” for the GOP’s loss in 2012.

Here’s the rest of the worst from the right wing this week:

Stuart Varney is Outraged That States Are Still Feeding The Poor Despite Food Stamp Cuts

Fox News host Stuart Varney worked himself into a later because states are finding ways to feed the poor, despite food stamp cuts. It truly must be seen to be believed.

Only a conservative like Varney — and possibly Paul Ryan — could be outraged that poor people aren’t starving in the streets, for the sake of the national debt. It’s par for the course for Varney, who has in the past boasted about being “mean to poor people.”

Clearly Stuart Varney doesn’t care about poor people, but if Varney really cared about spending on food stamps then he’d be in favor of raising the minimum wage. Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 would cut food stamp spending by $46 billion over 10 years. That’s $6 billion more than the $40 billion that House Republicans wanted to cut.

States are finding ways to feed the hungry, because people are still hungry. Cuts to food stamps don’t lead reduce the need for food assistance, but fewer people getting assistance. That’s how conservatism works. Raising the minimum wage means more people can afford basics like food and shelter, and thus fewer people need food assistance. 

Multi-million dollar companies are collecting billions of dollars in corporate welfare, because taxpayers supplement the meager wages they pay their employees through safety net programs like food stamps. Instead of railing against the poor, and looking for way to inflict more pain upon them, conservatives like Stuart Varney should be incensed about that. But that’s not who they are. 

Conservatives Offer Americans Empty Stomachs and Empty Rhetoric

Paul Ryan says that “the left” is offering Americans “a full stomach and an empty soul.” The truth is that conservatives like Paul Ryan are offering Americans empty stomachs and empty rhetoric . The American people want more than that.

Near the end of his Thursday morning speech at CPAC(the Conservative Political Action Conference), Paul Ryan told a story about a boy who didn’t want his free school lunch.

The story wasn’t true. Eloise Anderson, an aide to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, did tell Ryan the story at a congressional hearing last summer, but she never met or spoke to any little boy who told her he didn’t want his free school lunch.

The story was purloined from a book titled “An Invisible Thread.” The book is about a friendship between Laura Schroff and Maurice Mazyck. They met in New York in 1986, when she was an ad executive and he was an 11-year-old panhandler.

The “brown bag” conversation did happen, but had nothing to do with school lunch programs. Ironically, Schroff and Mazyck are now partnering with No Kid Hungry, an organization dedicated to ending child hunger in the U.S., in part by connecting low-income students with federal programs like school lunches.

It’s never a good idea to take anything that an aide to Scott Walker says as gospel. But Paul Ryan can’t even manage a decent copy-and-paste job on the economic data that he misused and misrepresented to support his screed against anti-poverty programs. He can hardly be expected to fact-check such a good-sounding story.

Ryan’s story isn’t real, but the stigma attached to subsidized school lunches is. Lunchtime can be the most socially stressful part of the school day, for any student. Invisible, ever-shifting social boundaries crisscross school cafeterias. So much is riding on where students sit, or even whether they have friends to sit with.

School LunchStudents who get subsidized lunches have much more to deal with. Lunchroom practices sometimes reveal students low-income status to their peers. Some schools have separate lines for students receiving subsidized lunches, and students who buy theirs. Others have an “a la carte” line, where students with cash can buy items not available in the subsidized lunch line.

It gets worse.

No wonder some students choose to go without lunch, and not face the stigma.

School districts are finding ways to relieve that stigma.

  • New York schools have held regular promotions, inviting professional athletes to eat subsidized lunches in their jerseys.
  • Other schools have integrated lunch lines, and implemented cashless systems, so that all students  go through the same line, and those receiving free lunches are less easily identified.
  • Boston public schools serve free school lunches to all students, even if their families are able to pay, as part of an experimental federal initiative, designed to make it easier for students from low-income families to get free meals, by eliminating the need to fill out forms.

Low income students would face even more stigma if the GOP had its way. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) doesn’t mind billing taxpayers for his lunches, but Kingston suggested that schools should have low-income students do janitorial work, like “sweep the floor of the cafeteria,” to “instill in them that there is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Kingston said his remarks were not targeted at a particular income group, but it’s a safe bet that students who can will buy or bring their lunches, and not have to clean up after their classmates. Kingston’s scenario would require “the children from poor families to stick around the cafeteria to sweep up while their better-off friends hitch off to recess.” Students who already skip eating lunch to avoid stigma might just skip school altogether.

Kingston’s views echo those of other conservatives. They reflect a conservative agenda that blames the poor, stigmatizes those who need help, and shames those who receive help.

Republicans are willing to walk their talk.

Paul Ryan need only go to Wall Street – or, for that matter, through the walkways of National Harbor, the shiny new suburban Washington enclave where the CPAC conference was being held – to find “full stomachs and empty souls,” where Americans pick up the lunch tab for some of the very banksters who drove the country into financial disaster and recession. If conservatives prefer full stomachs in corporate boardrooms to full stomachs in America’s classrooms, they are the one’s with “empty souls.”

Benghazi on the Brain

This week, the world watched as Ukrainians threw out their Russian-puppet president, and Russian president Vladimir Putin prepared to invade. Conservatives, naturally, have decided that it’s all President Obama’s fault.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R, SC) summed it all up with a tweet:

Former V.P. candidate Paul Ryan (R,WI) claimed during a CNN interview that the Obama administration “invited aggression” in the Ukraine by “projecting weakness” with Benghazi. and even claimed that the XL Keystone pipeline will solve the Ukraine crisis.

To be fair, not all conservatives blamed Benghazi for the Ukraine crisis. Sen. John McCain (R, AZ) said President Obama’s 1983 college essay proves it’s all his fault, or rather Obama’s essay as interpreted by Jonah Goldberg. The Obama essay wasn’t exactly a revelation. Conservatives leapt upon it on the eve of Obama’s first inauguration, as “evidence” that Obama was “anti-American” and oblivious to the threat of the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, American Family Association radio host Kevin McCullough said Russian president Vladimir Putin was emboldened to seize the Crimean peninsula because of a drag show fundraiseron a U.S. Military base in Okinawa, and “the sissification of our military.” McCullough imagined that Putin probably said, “Yeah, I’m not going to do anything Obama says because number one, he can’t keep his word, and number two, your military is now having drag shows on its bases.”

And since CPAC is in town, it deserves its own list.


The Rise And Fall of Gay Jim Crow

When the week began, Arizona governor Jan Brewer thought she had all the time in the world to decide whether to veto Arizona’s “Gay Jim Crow” bill. By the middle of the week, Brewer  learned differently. Conservatives lost it.

SB 1062, Arizona’s bill that would allow business to discriminate by refusing service to customers based on the business owner’s religious belief, followed close on the heels of a nearly identical bill in Kansas, was doomed from the start. The Kansas bill had focused public attention, so there was no way SB 1062 could fly under the radar. And unlike the Kansas bill, which the state Senate quashed before it ever reached the governor’s desk, SB 1062 cleared all the hurdles between tit and the governor’s desk.

Jobs, money, and the next Super Bowl were on the line. So when Brewer had to choose between placating the far-right, and vetoing a bill that would give Arizona a black-eye to match the one it got for its anti-immigrant laws, she made the only sane call.

The first signs of the freak out to come was the difference between responses from big media.

Here’s the Washignton Post’s response.

Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s Response.

It only got worse from there.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh said tweeted that the LGBT community has become “nothing more than a bunch of constitutional fascists.”

Walsh also scolded the rest of us to stop saying Brewer vetoed an anti-gay bill, warned that Christians will be forced to perform gay weddings, Catholics to hand out contraception.

There’s more.

Wingnut reactions to Brewer’s veto that make up most of the worst from the right-wing this week.

Nobody had more to say about SB 1062 than Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh claimed that Brewer was being “bullied” by the “homosexual lobby,” and blamed Brewer’s veto on “ajbect fear of minorities.” (Because of course the world was so much better when everyone was afraid of white men.)

Tea Party Nation president Judson Phillips said Brewer’s veto imposed “slavery” and mandated “penis cakes” for gay weddings.

Daily Caller Editor Tucker Carlson said it’s “fascism” for businesses to have to treat gay customers equally.

Pat Buchanan used the occasion to declare that it’s “time to move on” form civil rights, and even to repeal all civil rights laws.

Pat Robertson called for the impeachment of Attorney General for “elevating sodomy” above the constitution, when Holder said he believed attorneys general could simply refuse to enforce anti-gay laws.

Fox News commentator Erick Erickson said businesses were “aiding and abetting” the “sin” of homosexuality” by serving same-sex couples.

Another One Bites The Dust

It’s been another rough week on the right. A high-profile GOP governor, and potential 2016 presidential contender, could be brought low by a trove of scandalous emails. And it’s not Chris Christie.

 Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey via Compfight cc

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is up for reelection this year, and he’s got a big problem. It’s not Wisconsin’s dismal jobs numbers. Sure, under normal circumstances being ranked 40th in job creation would spell trouble for a guy who rode into office promising to create 250,000 jobs in his first term, but ending up losing over 50,000 jobs. But these are not normal circumstances.

A Wisconsin court released thousands of emails written by one of Walker’s former aides. The emails, over 25,000 pages of them, are part of an  investigation into illegal campaign activity by members of Walker’s staff when he was a county executive. The investigation ended, and found no wrongdoing on Walker’s part, but it still has the potential to trip him up as he steps on the national stage.

On the surface, the emails show that Walker presided over an office where aides used personal computers to hide that they were mixing government and campaign business, leading to criminal convictions for two of Walkers’ aides.

Aside from illegal campaign activity, the emails — which were obviously never meant for public consumption — are pretty embarrassing.

Just before the emails were released, Walker said he was sure they contained no surprises. That’s kind of true. The emails offer a detailed look at Scott Walker, and the picture they paint isn’t surprising — but confirms the suspicions about Walker and his closest aides. After all, you can tell a lot about a guy by the company he keeps.

Here’s the rest of the worst in wingnuttery this week.

Valentine’s Day Edition

It’s Valentine’s Day, but there’s not a lot of love on the right, even for some of their own. There’s no love even for millions of schoolchildren, who will get valentines from their classmates today.

At the beginning of the week, our sons came home with lists of all the children in their classes, and an assignment: address a valentine to everyone on those lists. They worked on them all week, until every child in their classes had a valentine with his or her name on it.

The completed valentines now sit on the kitchen counter, waiting to be delivered (on the next school day that isn’t also a snow day). But according to Fox News guest Elizabeth Esther, we didn’t do it right — because we made valentines for every kid in the class.

First of all, it’s not “one New Jersey teacher.” It’s every teacher in our school district, and then some. In fact, I’m pretty sure we gave valentines to everyone in the class when I was in school. It falls under the “If You Didn’t Bring Enough For Everyone” rule.

The two Elizabeths (Esther and Hasselbeck) needn’t worry. Kids will still experience all the heartlessness and cruelty the world has to offer. They won’t have to wait until adulthood. It’s called middle school.

By the time kids finish high school, whatever they learned about kindness and empathy since kindergarten will have been beaten out of them. With their innocence in tatters, and their spirits sufficiently broken, they will be more than prepared for the “real world.”

That’s not all, of course. Here’s the rest of the worst in wingnuttia this week:

We, Too, Sing America

You knew it was coming. The moment you saw Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl commercial, you knew the reaction from the right was coming.

The ad featured “America, The Beautiful,” sung in various languages, including English, while images of Americans of every race, creed, color, religion and orientation played across the television screen. You probably heard the distant popping sounds of wing-nuts’ heads exploding before the ad was over.

Twitter was immediately ablaze with tweets from right-wing tweeters who were outraged to  “America, the Beautiful” sung in any language other than English, seemed to think English is our official language (or that “American” is a language), and lacked a basic command of the English language themselves.

And then there was the response from right-wing media.

 Atlanta news anchor Brenda Woods’ response to the right-wing nonsense pretty much said it all.

The great irony is that “America, the Beautiful” was written by a radical, Christian socialist  lesbian named Katharine Lee Bates.

To borrow a phrase from the great Langston Hughes, “We, too, sing America.” We sing it in the varied tones of our many cultures. We sing it with accents both regional and international, and in every language we know — even if it drives right-wingers crazy.

Here’s the best of the worse in wing-nuttery this week:

Conservatives Around theBbend

Nothing drives conservatives around the bend like a speech by Barack Obama. So, thanks to the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, there’s no shortage of wingnuttery this week.

A Grimm Encounter

The most unhinged moment on the right this week was when Rep. Michael Grimm (R, NY) physically threatened a New York television reporter. Grimm walked away from an interview about the State of the Union address, when the reporter started to question him about campaign finance violations related to his campaign.

It’s hard to hear, but Grimm threatened to throw NY1 reporter Michael Sotto off the Capital rotunda balcony. “You’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy,” Rep. Grimm added before walking away from the interview a second time.

In a press statement following the incident, Grimm made it clear that he was not sorry for his behavior. That’s not surprising. Grimm has done this sort of thing before. In fact, Grimm has a long history of being a violent hot-head, going all the way back to his days as an undercover FBI agent. (That last link is to a long article from The New Yorker about some highlights of Grimm’s FBI career, and well worth a read.)

Realizing that threatening a reporter with violence — on camera, no less — Grimm apologized. By then, an interview that would have been forgotten after the local 11 o’clock news, had gone viral.

The Craziest Things Conservatives Said This Week

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