The most important thing you'll read about Missouri Representative Todd Akin is this Tweet:
And this analysis, by Nate Silver.
Akin doesn't have the luxury to wait and see if polls will put him behind, forcing him to quit. The date for pulling out is late tomorrow afternoon. Though he says he has no intention of doing that. Crossroads GPS is pulling out of Missouri, and the Susan B. Anthony's List group first backed, and now has abandoned him. It appears as if the NRSC is going to do the same thing. If Akin stays in and loses, this could be the seat that keeps the Senate for the Democratic Party.
Less important things you'll read: this kind of behavior and controversy isn't exactly new behavior for the Republican Party:
Women do not get pregnant when raped because "the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work" during an attack, a state lawmaker said yesterday.
Republican Representative Henry Aldridge made the remarks to the House Appropriations Committee as it debated a proposal to eliminate a state abortion fund for poor women.
"The facts show that people who are raped -- who are truly raped -- the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work and they don't get pregnant," said Aldridge, a 71-year-old periodontist. "Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever."
Aldridge's comments outraged women's advocates and some legislators from both parties.
"It's really common for rape victims to be blamed for being raped," said Margaret Henderson, president of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Nor is it new for Todd Akin:
Well, I think NBC has a long record of being very liberal, and at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God....
Akin believes that Medicare is unconstitutional, denies climate change, has called President Obama a "flaming socialist", and of course wants founding member and host nation, America, to withdraw from the United Nations. (To illustrate how plainly stupid and self-destructive these kinds of policies are, withdrawing from the U.N. would virtually guarantee a flood of condemnations, and even sanctions, against Israel. Once the United States is no longer there to veto them as a permanent member of the Security Council, the global consensus that Israel's blockade of Gaza violates international law, and Israel's refusal to allow IAEA inspectors into its nuclear facilities, would almost certainly result in a diplomatic nightmare for a country that Akin surely favors.)
Joe Scarborough notes that the Republican Party has been courting this kind of controversy by purging (and demonizing, really) moderates, and embracing the most conservative candidates they can find. The results in most of the country are nationally unelectable candidates.
Newsweek's cover is a photo of Barack Obama, and the words "HIT THE ROAD, BARACK - Why We Need a New President", a story written by Niall Ferguson. Not exactly the kind of content you'd expect from Newsweek. And it looks like Newsweek's new owner's rush to transform the magazine into HuffingtonPost/Drudge/Politico-style sensationalist, inflammatory garbage (attention whoring as a business model) has had predictable results:
There are multiple errors and misrepresentations in Niall Ferguson’s cover story in Newsweek — I guess they don’t do fact-checking — but this is the one that jumped out at me. Ferguson says:
The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.
Readers are no doubt meant to interpret this as saying that CBO found that the Act will increase the deficit. But anyone who actually read, or even skimmed, the CBO report (pdf) knows that it found that the ACA would reduce, not increase, the deficit — because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for.
Now, people on the right like to argue that the CBO was wrong. But that’s not the argument Ferguson is making — he is deliberately misleading readers, conveying the impression that the CBO had actually rejected Obama’s claim that health reform is deficit-neutral, when in fact the opposite is true.
I'm a big supporter of the mainstream emergence of opinion journalism, so long as it's clearly and appropriately segregated from hard news (and so long as people understand that reporting that one side is lying and the other is not, is not opinion journalism or "taking sides".) But allowing people to freely express their opinion is not the same thing as allowing people to freely lie their asses off. "HIT THE ROAD, BARACK", isn't a good argument that America needs a new President. It is, however, a pretty good argument that Newsweek needs editors.
Christine O'Donnell -- probably still not a witch -- was challenged by Soledad O'Brien today, about the right's misuse of the words socialist and Marxist when used to attack liberals and Democrats. I won't go into how absurd that is, because I think we all already understand. But I do think it's worth noting that this abuse of once meaningful and inflammatory terms is increasingly common. The American government and media have taken to calling any non-military attacks they disapprove of, terrorism, while refusing to use that label for any attacks they do approve of (or carry out themselves.) The same thing has happened with accusations of anti-Semitism, which increasingly means "anyone who opposes the policies or actions of the Israeli government, generally".
The biggest problem with the abuse of these terms is that it makes rational discourse impossible, and robs them of their true meaning in situations where they actually are appropriate. Too often, people use them as generic substitutes for "bad in my opinion". If al Qaeda bombs a funeral, that's terrorism, not because of what they did, but because al Qaeda did it. If the United States attacks funerals with drones while supposedly hunting terrorists, that's not terrorism, because we did it, and we're the good guys.
Former Bush propagandist Press Secretary, Dana Perino, thinks President Obama gets "amazing treatment" from the press. This delusion is common, but it's not true. In fact, President Obama got the most negative coverage -- was the only person to get majority negative coverage -- during the GOP primary. The delusion that press hates Sarah Palin is also laughable. Despite not even being a candidate, and has one of the lowest favorable ratings amongst Americans of any political figure, she had the second highest positive coverage of anyone.
Once again, America does not have a liberal media.
When the Dixie Chicks said that they were embarrassed that George W. Bush was from Texas, conservatives and Republicans burned their CDs (remember those?), called them traitors and America-haters, and threatened to murder them. Now, Hank Williams Jr. says of Barack Obama, "We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the US and we hate him!" while the right cheers it on.
Consider how alike, and different, these two situations are. The Chicks offered up their opinion, one of shame, of being from the same state as W. They never said he hates America, lied about his religion, and tried to speak for all of America. But the right wanted to kill them for what they said.
That tendency to overreact with sociopath rage hasn't gone away. At least some parts of the right have real problems.