Failed presidential candidate Herman Cain, now a Fox News analyst, talked to Bill O'Reilly last night about how much he disapproves of President Obama. But what caught my attention was Cain's dissatisfaction with American voters (via).
After saying much of the country is "dumb," Cain argued:
"[W]e have a severe ignorance problem with the people who are so mesmerized by [the president's] popularity that they are not looking at the facts.... I still have faith, Bill, in enough people that can wake up and get out of the ignorance zone and we then be able to elect the right kind of people going forward."
Look, Herman Cain is entitled to believe whatever he pleases. We are, however, talking about a guy who doesn't know China has nuclear weapons. He said the U.S. can't launch a military strike against Iran because it's "very mountainous." He thinks "Cuban" is a language. Asked about an international military conflict in Libya, he said, "I got all this stuff twirling around in my head." Asked about foreign heads of state, he said he doesn't care who "the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan" is.
Maybe Cain isn't the best person to lecture the American people on their "severe ignorance problem"?
In mid-May, when Herman Cain endorsed Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, he said he'd travel the nation as a surrogate for the Romney campaign. Cain added at the time he'd already spent the spring traveling on Romney's behalf, but now he'd make "a big deal out of it."
For what it's worth, it's striking to have a Romney surrogate publicly suggest Romney's ideas lack depth, but it's also hilarious for Herman Cain -- Herman Cain -- to think so highly of his non-existent agenda.
The guy who said "we need a leader, not a reader" and doesn't care who "the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan " is probably shouldn't boast about the "depth" of his ideas.
Rep. Allen West, the unhinged Florida Republican, appears to have reached some strict rules regarding his foes. If you dare disagree with him, West believes you're either (a) a communist; (b) a supporter of slavery; or (c) quite possibly a communistic supporter of slavery.
For those who can't watch clips online, West complained about those who've sought Social Security disability benefits. "[W]e are creating the sense of economic dependence, which to me is a form of modern, 21st century slavery," he said.
Putting aside West's preoccupation with comparing everything he doesn't like to slavery -- really, congressman, it's time for a new metaphor -- the argument here is especially bizarre. If Americans qualify for Social Security disability benefits, they're relying on a safety net that's keeping them out of poverty. They're not living on easy street -- you won't see these folks attending any fundraisers in the Hamptons -- but SSI helps beneficiaries, many of whom are children, from being destitute.
By West's reasoning, that makes them slaves. Of course, by that logic, any group of Americans who rely on public institutions are also slaves. Do you rely on public schools to provide your kids with an education? Then you're a victim to public dependence, which to West is a form of modern, 21st century slavery. Are you a senior citizen who relies on Medicare to see a doctor? Then you're a victim, too, and are necessarily some kind of slave in Allen West's mind.
Of course, West isn't the only strange person with odd ideas about slavery. Did you catch Herman Cain last week?
The former Pokemon-quoting presidential candidate was troubled by Chris Rock's Independence Day comments, in which the comedian called the 4th of July "white peoples independence day."
Cain was unimpressed (thanks to reader F.B. for the tip).
"I think it was Chris Rock who made fun of the fact, 'Well, it might be Independence Day, but the slaves weren't free then.' Look at it this way, if America had not become independent, slaves might still be slaves."
As a matter of history, that doesn't make any sense at all. If the United States were still under the crown, African Americans might still be slaves? There's no real ambiguity here: the United Kingdom banned slavery in 1833. Parts of Canada ended the slave trade as far back as 1793. The United States didn't end slavery until after the Civil War in 1865.
The only way slavery would have continued is if the South had won the Civil War -- and apparently some on the right now believe that wouldn't have been so bad.
In recent years, Republican officials, most notably at the state level, have created several new barriers to prevent Americans from participating in elections. The voter-suppression tactics have included everything from voter-ID laws to restrictions of voter-registration drives to closing early-voting windows.
The tactics deliberately affect voting constituencies that traditionally vote Democratic: African Americans, Latinos, low-income seniors, and young people. But Herman Cain and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell have a new video arguing that reality is upside down: supporters of voter-suppression tactics, they argue, are actually on the side of civil rights.
I can assure you this video is not a parody; it's not intended as satire; Cain and Blackwell are not trying to look ridiculous on purpose; and if you found yourself laughing at the clip, the humor was unintentional.
If for some reason you can't access this video, it's an ad from famous African-American right-wingers Ken Blackwell and Herman Cain attacking Eric Holder for failing to protect the right to vote by refusing to pursue the hallucinatory New Black Panther Party voter intimidation "threat" and by persecuting poor Rick Scott, who's just trying to protect the "integrity" of the ballot box. This rolls out after images from the civil rights movement and a pious statement from the duo about the hard-fought right to vote.
Yes, there are two sides to the larger fight. On the one hand, we have the nation's first African American Attorney General, who's fought back against Republican voter-suppression tactics. On the other, we have white GOP officials who are trying to rig the elections by making it harder for African Americans to register and vote.
As far as Herman Cain and Ken Blackwell are concerned, if you care about civil rights, you'll side with the latter, and throw the former out of office.
Indeed, Cain and Blackwell even see themselves as an extension of the purple-fingered Iraqi voters who Republicans exploited as a partisan cudgel seven years ago.
I'm tempted to say Cain and Blackwell should be ashamed of themselves for engaging in this pathetic stunt, defending the very people trying to stifle African American voting, and celebrating right-wing voter-suppression tactics as part of the civil rights struggle, but I suspect these two are well past the point of feeling any shame at all.
About a month ago, failed Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain released this video, calling for an "Army of Davids" to join him a "revolution." As part of this endeavor, Cain says he and his allies will "descend upon the Goliath called Capitol Hill," and demand support for his ridiculous "9-9-9" tax plan.
Remember, this video is sincere, and not a parody intended to make Cain appear foolish.
Today, of course, is April 16, the kick off for "Cain's Revolution on the Hill Rally and Patriot Summit." How many soldiers in Cain's "Army of Davids" showed up? Slate's Dave Weigel published this photo from Capitol Hill about a half-hour ago.
According to Cain's political action committee, Dick Morris, Steve Moore, John Fund, and Dinesh D'Souza, among others, were confirmed speakers for today's event. This lineup apparently inspired tens of people to participate.
In the video, Cain proudly declares, "We, the people, are coming." If he meant, "We, a hundred or so people, which includes some reporters who showed up because they were curious, are coming," then Cain was absolutely right.
Herman Cain today invites you to help him slay the Tax Monster with his 9-9-9*** tax plan. In a five-minute video, the narrator tells us that government gains an advantage by taxing you in ways you don't notice. "That's how the weasels that came up with paycheck withholding have been able to deceive an entire generation into thinking it's the government's money to begin with," the speaker says.
The first of those "weasels," as the Cain campaign calls them, would be President Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Congress. President Lincoln signed the Revenue Act of 1862 to pay for the Civil War; the law included a requirement that employers take out taxes.
The idea of withholding came around again during World War II, with the Current Tax Payment Act. For reasons that are kind of complicated to explain, the idea of starting withholding came with a debate over how to avoid double-payment of taxes. Republicans argued for a full year's tax forgiveness; Democrats said the abatement would amount to a special boon for the rich, who owed more. Tax History notes this from Senator Homer T. Bone (D-Washington):
"If I could abate any of the blood and tears and agony of the boys dying on the battlefields, if I could abate one little bit of the horror facing young men marching under the American flag into this world conflict, I would abate the horror coming to them, rather than abate a year's taxes for us who stay at home. I wish I could vote to abate blindness and insanity and vote away the blasting of boys' lives by shells on the battle fronts. But we cannot do that. All we can do is abate the tax on some fellow's income. The whole thing represents a grotesque twist of logic. It is a sort of madness."
I don't know whether that would make Senator Bone one of Herman Cain's weasels, but I have to think he's on the list along with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the other Democrats in Congress.
Herman Cain's got a revamped website going, so you can see his positions and give him money. Among those positions is his take on energy policy:
From the oil-rich states of Louisiana and Alaska to the mighty dams along rivers across the states, the options for many forms of energy are real and plenty. Still, liberals continue to perpetuate the misunderstanding that the high energy consumption of a thriving nation and conservation of our precious planet are at odds with one another.
The illustration, as you can see, is a photo of a steaming nuclear plant. Thanks to TinEye, I can tell you that the nuclear plant appears to be Isar-2, in Germany. After the Fukushima disaster, the German government decided to close all of its nuclear plants by 2022, including the one Herman Cain is using to sell you on the idea of nuclear power. What looks to be the original picture was taken last year by @bagalute, on Flickr. It's after the jump.
The original picture of Isar-2, in Germany, by @bagalute.
The Republican presidential race is being shaken up again, with Mitt Romney retaking the lead, Newt Gingrich surging into second place, and Herman Cain dropping to third place, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll released Friday.
Mitt Romney's retaking of the lead seems almost by default; he is still at 23 percent, right around the ceiling he can't seem to break through. Newt Gingrich, as predicted in recenttrend pieces, has surged to 19 percent, just ahead of Herman Cain.
Last night, in what Rachel called the worst analogy enactment in TV history, we attempted to render one of Herman Cain's defenses against the multiple allegations of sexual harassment: That thousands of women he has worked with wouldn't say they saw that kind of behavior from him.
But perhaps the most shocking response from the Cain team has come from his lawyer, who told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that any women considering accusing Mr. Cain should "think twice." Slate legal editor Dahlia Lithwick told us the chilling effect of that remark is horrifying:
It's just amazing -- you know, that here we are in 2011 and we're having a conversation that we thought we put behind us decades ago. I think the most striking thing is if you think about the architecture of sexual harassment law in this country, it used to be the case that it was impossible for a woman to come forward and say, "I am the subordinate, someone powerful and important harassed me." It would ruin her life.
It is amazing that we've put into place an entire legal system that encourages her to come forward, that protects her from being called a hooker and a gold digger for coming forward, and yet still she's a hooker and a gold digger despite this legal architecture.
So it's really an amazing thing, that having acknowledged that we have a problem, we put into place a legal system that's supposed to protect women. Now, when women come forward, men are still the victims. They're more the victims than ever before. And women are subjected to the exact kind of completely hideous, insulting, sexist, stereotyping that used to happen 50 years ago before we even talked about this.
Dahlia asked if it didn't sometimes seem "like the entire country is run by eight-and-a-half-year-old boys?" It might explain Herman Cain and the Pokemon thing, but that one's for you.