Rick Santorum

Fox Host Hits Santorum On Pope And Climate Change: You’re Not A Scientist (VIDEO)

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TPM LIVEWIRE

“If he’s not a scientist — and, in fact, he does have a degree in chemistry — neither are you,” Wallace said, adding that 80-90 percent of scientists agree that humans contribute to climate change.

The Pope is expected to release a strong statement on climate change in an encyclical by June 18.

“If he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?” Wallace asked.

“We have to make public policy with regard to the environmental policy,” Santorum, a devout Catholic, said. “Whether we like it or not, people in government have to make decisions with respect to our public policy that affect American workers.”

“The Pope can talk about whatever he wants to talk about — I’m saying, what should the Pope use his moral authority for?” he asked.

“He would say he’s protecting the Earth,” Wallace interjected.

“There are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change,” Santorum said.

Watch the clip around the 7:20 mark: HERE

BRENDAN JAMES

Republican “Survivor”: A Proposal for Culling the G.O.P. Field

Voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take fifteen or twenty Republican primary candidates seriously.

Voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take fifteen or twenty Republican primary candidates seriously. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY

THE NEW YORKER

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving along the Belt Parkway, listening to Sean Hannity’s radio show, when the right-wing commentator said something that surprised me about the ever-expanding field of Republican primary candidates. This is getting ridiculous, Hannity complained—how are they all supposed to fit on the same stage for a debate?

Hannity’s fears have proved to be well grounded. On Wednesday, the former senator Rick Santorum, who had been the runner-up to Mitt Romney in the 2012 G.O.P. primary, announced his candidacy. On Thursday, it will be the turn of George Pataki, the former governor of New York. Who knows whom Friday will bring? Lindsey Graham? Rick Perry? Donald Trump? Herman (999) Cain? Ted Nugent?

Here, in alphabetical order, are the eight Republican candidates who, by Thursday, will be officially running: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Santorum. Then there are Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, two front-runners who have all but announced that they are in. Currently in the “exploratory” stage, we have Graham, Trump, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, and the benighted Chris Christie. That makes fifteen, with other outlying possibilities, too.

The number turns out to be too high for Roger Ailes, Hannity’s boss at Fox News. The network (along with Facebook) is set to host the first televised G.O.P. debate, in Cleveland, on August 6th, and it has said that it intends to limit participation to the top ten candidates in the polls, plus those who are tied. “It was a difficult call based on political necessity,” Howard Kurtz, the veteran media reporter, who now works for Fox, explained in a post on Tuesday. “With 17 or 18 Republicans gearing up to run, you simply can’t have a viable debate with all of them. Each candidate would receive a miniscule amount of time. No sustained questioning would be possible. And it would be bad television.”

Not everyone associated with the Republican Party is happy about Fox’s decision. Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday, Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, accused Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, of colluding with Fox to cull the field prematurely. “There are fourteen candidates who are serious people,” Kristol said (doubtless prompting a protest call from Trump). “I think they all deserve to be on the stage.” He proposed that they have two debates, with the candidates split up randomly. “Republicans would be interested. They wouldn’t turn off the TV halfway through.”

Kristol raises a good point. If Fox applied its proposed criteria on the basis of current polling data collated by Real Clear Politics, Santorum, who won eleven state primaries in 2012, would barely make the cut. Fiorina, the only female candidate, who has reportedly impressed Republican audiences in Iowa and New Hampshire, would miss out. So would Graham, Jindal, and Kasich, all experienced elected officials. That doesn’t seem fair, or even particularly democratic. So what to do?

The G.O.P. needs a procedure that affords all of the candidates an opportunity to impress while also acknowledging that voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take all fifteen or twenty candidates seriously. One solution might be to turn the early stages of the G.O.P. primary into a version of “Survivor,” the long-running reality-television series.

Here’s how it could work. Following Kristol’s suggestion, Fox and Facebook would hold two debates on August 6th, with the candidates drawing lots to decide whether they appeared on the first or the second one. Each would receive the same amount of airtime, and the questions in the two debates would be broadly similar.

For the second debate, which CNN is scheduled to host from the Reagan Library, in Simi Valley, on September 16th, things would be different. A limit of twelve candidates would be imposed. Rather than follow the “Survivor” template literally, and have the candidates themselves decide who gets to appear at the debate and who doesn’t, it would be best to rely on surveys of likely Republican voters. The top dozen candidates in the poll of polls on September 9th, a week before the debate, would make the cut; everybody else would miss out. I’d leave it to the network executives and the R.N.C. to decide whether this debate would need to be split in two, like the first one. (CNN has suggested an alternative format for its event, using the full slate of candidates, in which the top ten candidates appear in one debate and the rest in another.)

The winnowing process wouldn’t end there. For the third debate, which will take place in October, there would be another cut, to ten candidates, with the poll of polls again deciding who is invited. And for the fourth debate, in November, there would be a final cut, to eight candidates.

By that stage, the G.O.P.’s Iowa caucus would be on the horizon—it’s now slated for February 2nd, but may well move up a bit—and the field might be starting to narrow of its own accord, regardless. But for now, and for the next few months, there are too many candidates, and some way of treating them equitably needs to be found.

My solution perhaps isn’t the best. Quite probably, it would favor candidates who have raised enough money to launch advertising campaigns and boost their poll numbers—but the current system does that anyway. Another possible objection is that focussing attention on the minor players would blur the message of the front-runners. I doubt that would happen. Bush, Rubio, and Walker would still get the bulk of the media’s attention.

On the upside, shifting to the “Survivor” model would afford everyone an opportunity, and it would inject a bit of excitement into the race early on. Over to you, Reince!

John Cassidy

10 things you need to know today: May 27, 2015

Fifa head Sepp Blatter in 2013 (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

THE WEEK

1.FIFA officials arrested on corruption charges
Swiss authorities arrested several six top soccer officials on Wednesdayso they could be sent to the U.S. to face corruption charges. Plain-clothed officers made the arrests in Zurich as officials were gathering for the annual meeting of FIFA, the sport’s global governing body. Investigators suspect FIFA officials of widespread corruption, including more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks involving World Cup bids, and media deals dating back to the early 1990s. FIFA’s controversial president, Sepp Blatter, is not named in the indictment.

Source: The New York Times, USA Today

2.Cleveland accepts restrictions on police use of force
Cleveland has agreed to let an independent monitor oversee its police and to subject its officers to new restrictions on the use of force under a settlement with the Justice Department announced Tuesday. A federal investigation found a “pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force” by Cleveland police. The announcement came three days after 71 people were arrested protesting the acquittal of a white officer charged with manslaughter in the killing of two unarmed black suspects.

Source: The Washington Post

3.At least 19 confirmed dead after floods hit Texas and Oklahoma
The death toll from unprecedented rains and flooding in Texas and Oklahoma rose to at least 19 on Tuesday. Another 14 remain missing in Texas, including eight members of two families who were in a vacation home swept off by a “wall of water” on the Blanco River. Four died in Houston, which was already flooded when another foot of rain fell on Tuesday. Drivers in the city abandoned at least 2,500 vehicles to seek dry ground. Another 13 people were killed in northern Mexico by a tornado produced by the same storm system.

Source: NBC News, CNN

4.Rick Santorum to announce second bid for the White House
Former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is expected to formally announce Wednesday that he is joining the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Santorum was the runner-up behind nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, but he is polling at around 2 percent, far behind his likely rivals. A devout Catholic staunchly opposed to gay marriage and abortion, he even trailed among evangelical Christians in Iowa. “I’m really going to have an uphill battle ahead of me,” Santorum said in a fundraising email ahead of his announcement.

Source: The Washington Times

5.Appeals court rejects request to lift hold on Obama’s immigration plan
A federal appeals court on Tuesday denied a White House request to lift a ban on President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Obama’s plan, which he unveiled in November, would shield as many as five million immigrants from deportation — including people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Twenty-six states sued to block the order, and a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction in February to keep the plan from being implemented until the lawsuit is settled.

Source: The Associated Press, Fox News

6.Nebraska governor vetoes bill to abolish capital punishment
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) on Tuesday vetoed a bipartisan bill to abolish the death penalty in the state. Ricketts said his action was “a matter of public safety” and giving prosecutors “the tools they need to put these dangerous hardened criminals behind bars.” Lawmakers scheduled aWednesday vote to override the veto. The bill would make Nebraska the first conservative state to scrap capital punishment. It passed with two votes more than needed to override a veto, but at least one “yes” vote has publicly changed his mind.

Source: The New York Times

7.Hackers access 100,000 taxpayers’ old IRS returns
Cyber thieves stole tax return information for more than 100,000 taxpayers this year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said on Tuesday. The criminals used the agency’s “Get Transcript” online service to download old tax returns. About half of their 200,000 attempts to get information were successful. The IRS is investigating. “We’re confident these are not amateurs,” Koskinen said. “These are actually organized crime syndicates that not only we but everyone in the financial industry are dealing with.”

Source: Reuters

8.Extreme heat kills 1,100 in southern India
A heatwave has killed more than 1,100 people in India, as temperatures rose above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Authorities said Tuesday that most of the victims were elderly, homeless, or construction workers in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The deadly heat reportedly has melted roads in the capital, New Delhi. Weather forecasters said the deadly temperatures, would continue through the week, with no relief until a monsoon hits the Indian mainland around May 31.

Source: Hindustan Times

9. Sanders launches bid for the presidency
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) officially launched his campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday. Sanders promised to make fighting income inequality his priority as he appealed to the party’s progressive wing in a longshot attempt to beat frontrunner Hillary Clinton. He said there was “something profoundly wrong” when the nation’s richest 1 percent have so much while others struggle. “This type of rigged economy is not what America is supposed to be about,” he said.

Source: USA Today

10.Lebron James is headed back to the NBA Finals
The Cleveland Cavaliers routed the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night 118-88 on their way to another shot at the NBA Championship. It will be the second appearance for Cleveland in the league’s premier event, and the sixth for star Lebron James. In sweeping the Hawks in four games, Lebron became the first player in NBA history to average 30 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — a hair short of the a triple double — in a playoff series. The Cavaliers will next play the winner of the Golden State-Houston series on June 4 in the first game of the NBA Finals.

Source: ESPN

Harold Maass

Rick Santorum Dances Awkwardly To Song By Man Who Hates Him And Everything He Stands For (VIDEO)

ADDICTING INFO

When Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum took to the stage at South Carolina’s Freedom Summit last weekend, he did a brief and painfully awkward shuffle to a song by a man who basically hates him and everything he stands for.

The eagle-eyed producers over at NowThis caught the moment Santorum dad-danced to Pharrell William’s ubiquitous “Happy” and juxtaposed it with an appearance the singer/songwriter made on The Ellen Show last year. Williams was speaking on the conservative stances that the GOP have taken on a number of social issues, and it’s fair to say that he and Santorum would struggle to see eye-to-eye.

On Equal Marriage, Pharrell sees no place for politicians to restrict the rights of two people who love each other to marry. He says in exasperation:

“You’re telling them who they can marry and who they can’t? What is this?!”

Santorum on the other hand has previously described the abuse of children by Catholic Priests as “a basic homosexual relationship.” Not only does the Pennsylvania Senator oppose same-sex marriage (comparing it to bestiality), but he has also stated his support for state legislators to outlaw LGBT relationships altogether.

Meanwhile back on Ellen, Pharrell moves on to women’s sexual health, another territory Santorum and his Christian Conservatives are seeking to conquer like Missionaries. Pharrell expresses the kind of pained disbelief shared by most progressive Americans on that war on women when he says:

“We have legislators and legislation in place in certain places, that tells women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. How is that possible?”

Rick Santorum, however, sees zero problem with invading the bedrooms and wombs of American women. He is opposed to abortion, even in cases where a woman or girl has been raped. He has even stated he would refuse his own daughter an abortion if she was raped, saying he would instead counsel her to “accept this horribly created” baby, because it was still a gift from God.

The presidential wannabe is also against women in the military, accusing them of causing “compromising situations” by being female, around men (that’s code for “they might make us rape them”).

Any women thinking about using contraception would also not be free to do so under a Santorum presidency- he refers to it as a “grievous moral wrong.”

No wonder he’s dancing so very awkwardly. Perhaps the irony wasn’t lost on him after all.

~

GOP Summit—The Good, The Bad And The Absolutely Crazy

Half-Term Governor of Alaska: Sarah Palin | Jim Young/Reuters

 The Daily Beast

GOP presidential contenders flocked to Iowa on Saturday to try out their pitches on the unofficial beginning of the Iowa Caucus. Hint: Sarah Palin has lost her mind.
You’re going to read a lot of analysis of this weekend’s Freedom Summit as the unofficial beginning of the Iowa caucus.Whether that’s true depends entirely on how many of those who attended are still standing one long year from now—and how many of those who didn’t attend (Jeb Bush, Rand Paul) have campaigns that are still alive and well.The event does serve as a gauge for a candidate’s willingness to pander, and it is the beginning of serious media scrutiny for all the candidates as 2016 candidates,not as quaint spectacles (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz) or interesting anomalies (Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina)…. or familiar former presidential candidates, who made up a non-shocking majority of the featured speakers (Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin).

What did we learn?

Palin is past her sell-by date.

It’s the unofficial policy of many serious political reporters (myself included) to not cover Palin speeches.  So it’s entirely possible I missed a key stretch of her decline that would help make sense of, or have prepared me for, the word-salad-with-a-cup-of-moose-stew that she presented.

Sample passage: “Things must change for our government! It isn’t too big to fail, it’s too big to succeed! It’s too big to succeed, so we can afford no retreads or nothing will change, with the same people and same policies that got us into the status quo! Another Latin word, status quo, and it stands for, ‘Man, the middle class and everyday Americans are really gettin’ taken for a ride.’”

The speech (perhaps a generous description) went on 15 minutes past the 20 minutes allotted other speakers. And even as she ended it, one sensed less a crescendo than the specter of a gong, a hook to pull her off, or—a sincere thought I had—an ambulance to take her… somewhere.

No one else embarrassed themselves out of the race.

The event was organized by immigration hawk Rep. Steve “Cantaloupes” King (with the help of Citizens United) and many pundits fretted (or eagerly anticipated) 47-percent-style gaffes in the service of speakers trying to out-xenophobe each other. I may have missed something, but the anti-immigration rhetoric stayed on the “self-deport” side of offensive. Santorum did some under-the-breath dog whistling in reference to legal immigration, positing that the U.S. is home to more non-native citizens than ever before. He contrasted those non-native-born workers to, ahem, “American workers.” As far as I know, if you work in America, you are an “American worker.” Unless Santorum is thinking of something else.

The soft bigotry of low expectation works!

Scott Walker continues to clear the “not Tim Pawlenty” bar, but no one seems to realize how weak of a standard that is. National journalists cooed over Walker’s relatively energetic speech, apparently forgetting they were comparing it to other Walker speeches. In a similar vein, Chris Christie did not intentionally piss anyone off or bully the audience. Christie gave what seemed a lot like a national-audience speech—probably the only speaker that played it so safe.

Sen. Mike Lee gave some sensible, serious suggestions.

I may be engaging in more expectation management, but I was pleasantly surprised by Lee’s earnest and non-applause-line-ridden speech. He beseeched the audience to look for a candidate that was “positive, principled, and proven”—all while explicitly taking himself out of the running. In what could have been a direct jab at his fellow guests, he quipped, “The principled candidate is not necessarily the guy who yells ‘Freedom!’ the loudest.” He could have been quoting Elizabeth Warren when he softened typical GOP bootstrap rhetoric: “Freedom doesn’t mean ‘You’re all on your own,’” he said, “It means, ‘We’re all in it together.’” Elizabeth Warren would approve.

The GOP is going to need to figure out how to run against someone who is not Obama.

Even Lee, who gave what might be the most forward-looking speech, hung many of his arguments on the framework of undoing what Obama has done. Every other speaker followed suit, and some of the night’s biggest applause lines had to do with the same “fake scandals” that already proved insufficiently interesting to the American people: Benghazi, with a dash of IRS. They speak of repealing Obamacare with the zest of people who think of the House’s own fifty-plus attempts as mere warm-ups. Even their foreign policy script has Obama and the specter of American decline as its primary villains—foes that have defeated them twice before.

Texas Lawmaker Wants Constitutional Amendment Allowing Discrimination Of LGBT

State Sen. Donna Campbell (R), seen here looking up at Rick Santorum in 2013, is proposing a constitutional amendment protecting a religious right to discriminate against LGBT people. | Credit AP

Addicting Info

Tea Party State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-TX) believes religious freedom trumps civil rights. On Monday, she proposed an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would allow employers with intolerant religious beliefs to fire LGBT workers and shop owners to turn away LGBT customers.

Campbell’s amendment to the Texas Constitution allows discrimination and violation of LGBT civil rights for religious reasons. The proposed amendment reads as follows:

“Government may not burden an individual’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion or right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief unless the government proves that the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and it the least restrictive means of furthering that interest,” reads the new resolution. “For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘burden’ includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, and denying access to facilities or programs.”

Campbell’s amendment has met with opposition from some who feel it is redundant and that strong enforcement of religious freedom already exists within the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Others feel the language within the amendment could be too broadly interpreted and lead to unintentional consequences.

Texas Monthly reports that Van de Putte, the chair of the senate’s Committee on Veteran’s Affairs and Military Installations expressed concern that the amendment could strengthen fundamentalist groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church,

“While I know everyone here represents what I would call traditional religious groups, there are religious groups that have very, very different fundamental beliefs. Could this resolution lead to our inability to protect their religious beliefs from infringing on our military funerals?”

Joe Pojman, the executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life had other concerns,

“abortion would become a religious right and taxpayers could be forced to pay for abortions.”

Similar proposals have failed this year in Kansas, North Carolina, South Dakota, Arizona and Oregon. However Mississippi and Kentucky have been successful enacting such a law. Critics describe this legislation as a “license to discriminate.”

Conservative political forces, again on the wrong side of history, have been aiding companies wishing to deny LGBT customers and employees their civil rights. The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling that reversed decades of legal precedent by allowing religious freedom to trump civil rights has only made conservative voices louder.

If the measure is approved by the state House and Senate, the people of Texas will have to affirm it by a vote in November 2015.

This is a religious civil war: Hobby Lobby only the beginning for new religious theocrats

This is a religious civil war: Hobby Lobby only the beginning for new religious theocrats

Sarah Palin, Antonin Scalia, Rick Santorum (Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster/Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid/Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)

Salon

 The tyrant’s freedom is everyone else’s slavery.

The United States is still a democratic republic, formally, but what that actually means in practice is increasingly in doubt — and the Hobby Lobby ruling, deeply disingenuous and sharply at odds with centuries of Anglo-American law, exemplifies how that formal reality is increasingly mocked in practice. It is a practice best described as neo-feudalism, taking power away from ordinary citizens, in all their pluralistic, idiosyncratic diversity, and handing it over to corporations and religious dictators in both the public and the private realm. The Supreme Court’s actions are not taking place in a vacuum — though they are filling one: As Tea Party Republicans in the House increasingly bring democratic self-government to a halt, contracting the power of we the people to act as a cohesive self-governing whole, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority shifts ever more everyday power into the hands of private dictatorships.

Hobby Lobby handed for-profit corporations religious rights for the first time in history — a radical break with all previous precedent, and yet a part of a recent pattern, as Norm Ornstein rightly pointed out:

[F]or the majority on the Roberts Court, through a series of rulings that favor corporations over labor or other interests, it is clear that corporations are king, superior to individual Americans—with all the special treatment in taxes and protection from legal liability that are unavailable to us individuals, and now all the extra benefits that come with individual citizenship. Call it the new Crony Capitalism.

The expansion of corporate power in Hobby Lobby has gotten too little attention, and I’ll return to discuss this further below. But the advancement of theocracy — religious dictatorship — is even less clearly seen through the fog of right-wing propaganda about “religious liberty.”

First, however, an important highlight of a neglected aspect of the Hobby Lobby case, the fact that Hobby Lobby’s self-professed belief appeared out of nowhere just in time for them to file suit, as Stephanie Mencimer noted in March:

The company admits in its complaint that until it considered filing the suit in 2012, its generous health insurance plan actually covered Plan B and Ella (though not IUDs). The burden of this coverage was apparently so insignificant that God, and Hobby Lobby executives, never noticed it until the mandate became a political issue.

In short, Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held beliefs” claims are transparently bogus — as well as being scientifically invalid, since none of the methods involved are abortifacients, as Hobby Lobby claims. These would not matter if they only guided individual private conduct; that’s precisely what religious freedom actually means. You’re free to be a religious hypocrite, because letting someone else judge your sincerity can lead too easily to real religious tyranny. But when you’re already in a position to tyrannize others — as Hobby Lobby is — that’s a whole different ballgame. The tyrant’s freedom is everyone else’s slavery.

Continue reading here…

Santorum: Obama’s ‘Minions’ Privately Told Me They Thought I Could Beat Him (VIDEO)

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How long have u suffered from delusions of grandeur, Santorum?

TPM LiveWire

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to promote his new book “Blue Collar Conservatives,” Santorum was asked whether he thought he’d win if his family was game to launch another presidential bid. He lost the Republican nomination last time around to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

“Look, I thought I could have won last time,” he said. “I’m convinced. You know I asked one of the Obama minions who were running the campaign ‘Hey, why didn’t you guys help me? I was up there battling Romney and all these folks at MSNBC were saying wouldn’t this be great if Santorum were the nominee, why didn’t you help me? Why didn’t you go out and bang me a little a bit, hit me you know, as being too conservative?'”

“And the consensus was, ‘We didn’t want you, because of this,'” Santorum added, holding up his book.

The former presidential hopeful then recounted how he met with Romney’s campaign manager and pollster after dropping out of the race. Romney’s team showed him a poll from Pennsylvania that found Santorum down by four points among voters who went to the polls during the workday, but up by 21 points after 5 p.m.

“When working people go to the polls,” host Joe Scarborough pointed out.

“This is it. And that’s what the other side is scared to death of,” Santorum said.

Watch below:

Raw Story’s top 10 villains of 2013

The Raw Story

Ted Cruz speaks to CBN

There are literally too many villains in the news. Here at The Raw Story, we reported so many awful things our elected officials and opinion shapers said or did this year — whether they’re imprudent, malicious or just ridiculous — that there were too many villains to fit into a Top 10 list (sorry Sarah Palin, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Erik Rush, Rick Santorum, Gordon Klingenschmitt and Ken Blackwell; you all missed the cut). But we managed to combine a couple of entries to cram all the bad guys into one conventional list of 2013′s biggest villains.

Jim Wheeler via Wheeler4Nevada

Dishonorable mention: Jim Wheeler, Nevada Republican state assemblyman: He told a gathering of Storey County Republicans that, if his constituents demanded, he would vote to reinstate slavery. The comments were reported in October, although he’d made them more than a year earlier, in August 2012. While the timing may technically disqualify him from our list, Wheeler’s comments merit a dishonorable mention.

Redeeming qualities: Listens to his constituents. Would only vote to bring back slavery at gunpoint, and while holding his nose. Is that not better than doing so enthusiastically? Oh. Right. Yeah, slavery is an issue that’s definitely worth laying down your life to fight against.

 

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) says creditors 'would thanks us' if U.S. went into default [CNN]

10. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL): It’s been a busy year for the first-term Tea Party lawmaker. He backed legislation to investigate the circumstances of President Barack Obama’s birth – including chasing down conspiracy theories about his actual birth mother being a wanted terrorist – in hopes of invalidating all the laws he’s signed. Yoho called the health care reform law “racist” because it imposed a tax on tanning bed use and said federal workers who were furloughed during the government shutdown shouldn’t be paid – even though he voted to reinstate their back pay. Yoho also invited families in his district to attend a course on buying a gun and using it safely on the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. It’s true that YOLO, and let’s hope Yoho only serves once.

Redeeming qualities: As a former veterinarian, presumably likes animals. Voted to reinstate back pay for furloughed federal workers, even if he insulted them. His name invites use of the #yoho tag, which is fun.

Rand Paul speaks to ABC News

9. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): “Aqua Buddha” has a problem with sourcing. He got caughtplagiarizing his speeches and books from Wikipedia and other sources, and his butt-hurt threats to just “footnote everything” and duel Rachel Maddow were arguably worse than the original sin. And Paul’s board certification for his eyeball chiropractic opthalmology practice turned out to be just as legit as the “slumbering wombat” hairstyle he wears (i.e., it’s fake, and self-applied). But even more problematic for the 2016 presidential hopeful, his foreign policy isincomprehensible and has been caught palling around with racists, just like his dad.

Redeeming qualities: Grandstanding March filibuster drew attention to a real issue – the proposed domestic use of drone strikes – even if he was eventually joined on the Senate floor by the “wacko bird” caucus, proving that even a cuckoo clock is right twice a day.

Racial discrimination charges against Paula Deen dismissed [ABC News]

8. Paula Deen: It’s not surprising that a 66-year-old white woman who grew up in the pre-segregation South would hold some racist views or make racist comments. It’s not right, of course, but it’s not surprising and can even be forgivable. But her explanation that she was only joking, and that her jokes are usually targeted at group stereotypes, was pretty bad. Fantasizing about aslave-themed wedding for her brother, complete with identically dressed black servants to evoke “the Shirley Temple days” is even worse. Especially in 2007, as she admitted in a deposition for a sexual and racial harassment lawsuit filed by former employees against Deen and her brother. The suit was later settled, and Deen was dropped by the Food Network and many companies she endorsed due to the uproar over her admitted remarks and botched apology.

Redeeming qualities: Her cookware is actually pretty decent, even if her recipes are grotesque caricatures of down-home southern cooking.

Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Republican Representative Darrell Issa (AFP)

7. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA): Look, no one is supposed to like the House Oversight Committee Chairman. As the congressional watchdog with subpoena power, you’re supposed to be the bad guy – but that doesn’t mean you should also be bad at your job. In his dogged pursuit of a scandal that can be used to impeach Obama, the California Republican has wasted scads of taxpayer money and revealed sensitive information not meant for release. Government transparency is good and proper, but this is just sloppy and vindictive work. “Derp Throat’s” indiscretions have been sofrequent and egregious that his fellow committee members have complained they aren’t trusted with the sensitive materials they need to do their jobs. Issa claimed his office forgot about a court order when releasing sealed documents on the “Fast and Furious” gun sales investigation, and he shared security information on the government health care exchange website the White House said could serve as a blueprint for hackers. Issa also recommended that a health official“watch more Fox News” to learn about the Affordable Care Act, which is laugh-out-loud stupid.

Redeeming qualities: Accused car thief and suspected arsonist with a shadowy business past. Those aren’t good things?

Ethan Couch

6. (tie) Judges G. Todd Baugh (Montana) and Jean Boyd (Texas): Baugh drew broad and richly condemnation for his decision to sentence former teacher Stacey Rambold to just one month in prison for raping a 14-year-old student. But his justification was arguably worse, claiming the teenage girl – who later took her own life — was “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as her teacher. Boyd also made international news for herdecision to sentence 16-year-old Ethan Couch to 10 years on probation, but no jail time for killing four pedestrians and badly injuring two friends in a drunken driving crash. The teen’s attorney argued that the teen suffered from “affluenza” due to his wealthy, indulgent parents, and his wealth and privilege prevented him from knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Redeeming qualities: Baugh apologized and later tried to annul the sentence, but the state’s Supreme Court ruled he didn’t have the authority to do so. The judge concedes he should be censured, if not removed from the bench for his remarks about the teenage rape victim. Boyd’s sentence, which may allow the teen to stay in an upscale alcohol treatment facility at his father’s expense, will keep Couch under court supervision for 10 years, while a jail term may have allowed him to be released after just two years.

Steubenville protest 010512 by roniweb via Flickr CC

5. Steubenville, Ohio: The sexual assault and subsequent cover-up last year of an unconscious 16-year-old girl laid bare a rape culture so deeply rooted in the football-mad small town that the prosecutions still haven’t stopped, even with the convictions of two teens on rape charges. Photos of the drugged girl being carried from party to party, sexually assaulted, mocked and abused were circulated on social media by other teens who witnessed the attacks, but police said they were unable to find any witnesses until the hacktivist group Anonymous shared the incriminating posts. Residents accused the girl of making up the attack, despite photographic evidence to the contrary, to bring down the town’s highly successful football program and rebuked the media for publicizing the case. After football players Ma’lik Richmond and Trenton Mays were found guilty in March and sentenced to at least a year in juvenile prison, two teenage girls were charged with threatening the victim. A grand jury just last month indicted the school superintendent, a volunteer assistant football coach and two school employees accused of helping to cover up the crime. Even the judge who presided over the rapists’ trial excused the teens actions, noting that the verdict served as a lesson of the dangers of social media, and not a cautionary tale against committing or condoning sexual violence.

Redeeming qualities: Of course, even in a town as small as Steubenville, there are good people and bad people. But unfortunately, the attitudes and actions that have landed the town on our list are not limited to Steubenville. For example, CNN’s Candy Crowley grieved after the convictionthat “those two boys’ lives are ruined.” Elsewhere, a woman who accused a Florida State football star of raping her said police cautioned her against pursuing charges “because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable” in the football-obsessed college town. (Prosecutors later decided not to charge the player, Jameis Winston, who won the Heisman Trophy the following week.) And in a remarkably similar case from Missouri, a special prosecutordecided to re-open a rape investigation after a teenage girl went public to discuss her alleged sexual assault by two football players and subsequent harassment, which also attracted involvement by Anonymous. Rape culture is real, and it’s everywhere.

George Zimmerman laughs in court (Fox News / screen grab)

4. George Zimmerman: History will recall George Zimmerman, if he leaves any discernible mark at all, as an angry, underemployed vigilante who shot an unarmed black kid to death after provoking a confrontation, losing the subsequent fight and then claiming self-defense to initially avoid charges. A jury found there wasn’t enough evidence this summer to convict him of second-degree murder or manslaughter, and that should have been the last we heard from Sean Hannity’s id. But Zimmerman periodically turns up in the news for driving too fast, usually carrying a gun, and beating up or threatening his estranged wife or girlfriend. Zimmerman beat the rap on both domestic violence cases for the pretty much the same reasons abusers always so. But before recanting her accusations, his girlfriend painted a disturbing picture of a desperate, suicidal man unable to handle the pressure of living under media scrutiny but who is so desperate to stay in the spotlight that he’ll commit crimes to keep his name in the news. He recently sold a painting on eBay for more than $100,000 and started a sanctimonious, self-aggrandizing Twitter account. This story won’t end well.

Redeeming qualities: Ha. Ha ha ha. Ha.

Rafael Cruz speaks at town hall event in Delaware (C-SPAN)

3. (tie) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and oil baron Rafael Cruz: Many conservatives don’t trust Obama because they fear he’s a foreign-born Manchurian candidate primed for political success by a nefarious outsider father who wishes to reshape the United States in his own image. So it’s weird that they seem to like Ted Cruz so much, because he was born in Canada and pushed into right-wing politics as a child by his Cuban-born, supervillain-voiced father, Rafael Cruz, who tells anyone who’ll listen that his son was anointed by God as a “political savior.” (And conservatives made fun of Barbara Walters for her Obama-as-messiah metaphor!) The younger Cruz still retains the “boy pastor” style of speaking he honed as a teenager in the Amway-backed Free Enterprise Education Center, even when he seems to be reading from a random conservative’s Facebook wall (“Duck Dynasty,” Ashton Kutcher, “Star Wars,” Dr. Seuss) during his pointless faux-libuster that helped kick off the even more pointless government shutdown he helped force.

Redeeming qualities: The way his eyebrows sweep plaintively upward when he’s feigning sincerity, as if to say, “Aw, look: He thinks he’s people.”

Koch brothers

2. The Koch brothers: It’s a conspiracy, man. The banal white faces of dark money are basically the root of pretty much all corporatist evil in this country. Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are behind efforts to keep minimum wages lowrestrict reproductive rights and pressure lawmakers into shutting down the federal government in a failed effort to defund Obamacare. Then, to deprive the health care reform law of the young, healthy recipients needed to offset older, riskier investments, they sponsored a campus tourto convince college students it’s cool to go without health insurance. Speaking of colleges, the pair has made large donations to colleges in hopes of buying influence over professor hiring, and they’ve been able to buy economic studies that turn out the results they want.

Redeeming qualities: The Koch brothers have donated a nearly incomprehensible amount of money to medical research, the arts and various museums. So that’s nice.

Wayne LaPierre speaks to Fox News

1. Wayne LaPierre: This ghoulish stain exploited the gruesome massacre of 20 first-graders and their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary while lobbing back the same accusation at anyone who dared wonder whether restricting access to guns may have prevented the slaughter. LaPierre waited in hiding for a week for the initial shock from the tragedy to wear off before calling for more guns in schools, and he continued pushing for more guns everywhere with each new, painfully routine mass shooting occurred throughout the year. He claims to represent gun owners, but instead stokes their darkest fears to benefit the gun manufacturers he actually represents. “The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters,” LaPierre said one week after the Newtown, Connecticut, killings. And he should know, assuming he’s not too ashamed to walk past a mirror.

Redeeming qualities: Hasn’t shot anyone, to my knowledge. It’s long past due that we restricted access to ruthlessly efficient killing tools, but nothing will really change until we stop associating guns and violence with manhood. Teach your kids that guns are for cowards.

Jon Stewart Schooled Tea Partiers For Racist Reactions To Nelson Mandela’s Death

The Huffington Post

Jon Stewart kicked off this week’s “Daily Show” by shedding light on some truly odd reactions that some folks had about the passing of Nelson Mandela — including at least one prominent Republican.

Newt Gingrich and Ted Cruz, to their credit, offered sincere notes of gratitude for the South African leader’s life work on their respective Facebook pages. What they did not expect, however, were the swift and racist reactions they saw from several of their fans. Example: “This clench-first gorilla [sic] warrior does not deserve respect from informed Americans,” one user wrote on Gingrich’s Facebook.

Stewart was hardly surprised by the outpouring of bile. “Of course, that’s why the Internet was invented,” he said. “To say hateful things with greater efficiency, reach and freedom to keep people from finding out how truly disgusting you are in your home. ‘I would never say those things, it was Dr. Awesomeballs69!'”

Racist Facebook fans are one thing, but Stewart could not let an actual Republican leader off the hook so easily. Rick Santorum, appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor,” somehow equated apartheid, South Africa’s former system of segregation that Mandela helped end, to the Affordable Care Act.

“The systemic subjugation of a race of people is different than the establishment of subsidized insurance exchanges,” Stewart helpfully explained before channeling his inner Julie Andrews with a “Sound of Music” parody: “Obamacaaare is not apartheeeeeid!”

Check out the clip above to see Stewart lay into the reactions to Mandela’s death.