Fox Nation vs. Reality: Was Benghazi A Koch Brothers Plot?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has taken a courageous stand of late against the democracy-defiling Koch brothers. He has correctly assailed them for bankrolling dishonest campaigns and offensive Tea Party front groups. However, he has never said what Fox Nation is now reporting that he said:

Fox Nation

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No, Harry Reid didn’t say that “Benghazi Is A Koch Brothers Plot.” He didn’t imply it or suggest it or even vaguely allude to it. The quote that Fox Nation cited from an article in the Washington Examiner addressed the announcement by GOP House Speaker John Boehner that he intends to form a special committee to conduct even more fruitless investigations of the trumped up Benghazi scandal. Apparently the four committees that have been beating this dead horse for nearly two years were not sufficient (or competent) to complete the job. However, Reid’s response to this waste of time and taxpayer money was crystal clear and unambiguous. He said that…

“Republicans are showing yet again that they have nothing to offer the middle class. Republicans care more about defending billionaires like the Koch brothers and trying to rekindle debunked right-wing conspiracy theories than raising the minimum wage or ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work.”

Anyone with elementary level comprehension skills understands that Reid was listing – not connecting – the Koch brothers and debunked right-wing conspiracy theories. That’s why he used the word “and” to differentiate between the two. If he were connecting them he would have said “like the Koch brothers who are trying to rekindle…”

It’s clear that Jesse Watters, the editor of the Fox Nation website (whom Stephen Colbert just royally skewered), has way too much time on his hands. If he is reduced to deliberately mischaracterizing simple English in order to smear his enemies, he obviously doesn’t have anything of importance to work on. That’s the tale of all of the Fox News-invented scandals. Since they haven’t got anything of substance with which to tar the President, they just make stuff up and hope their dimwitted audience swallows it. And that’s something they can rest assured will occur.

THE FILIBUSTING: Did McConnell Trick Reid Into Limiting The Filibuster?

An historic upending of tradition took place yesterday in the United States Senate. The filibuster, a procedural rule that has stood for a couple of hundred years, was limited in a significant way. After five years of abuse, Democrats finally summoned up the grit to put the brakes on the GOP’s deliberately excessive use of the tactic.

Under ordinary circumstances, the filibuster was used by the senate minority as a last resort when they felt strongly, on well articulated principles, that a bill or an executive branch nominee must not advance. But ever since the election of Barack Obama, Republicans have inappropriately deployed it as a backdoor method of nullifying the presidency of a man they viscerally despise. To illustrate the enormity of the problem, there have been 168 presidential nominees that have been blocked by filibuster. About half of those were the total for the 230 years before Obama was elected. The other half were all during the five years since Obama came to office. Gee, what do you suppose would account for that?

Earlier this year Democrats came within a hair’s breadth of triggering the so-called “nuclear option” (a term coined by then-GOP leader Trent Lott when he was considering doing it). But on the eve of the vote, Republicans promised to quit using the filibuster, except under extraordinary circumstances, if Democrats agreed to call off the rule change. Since then, however, Republicans broke their promise by blocking, or threatening to block, virtually every executive nominee and, just in the past couple of weeks, three appointments to the D.C. Circuit Court. They seemed to be openly daring Democrats to enact filibuster reform.

Under the circumstances, Majority Leader Harry Reid had little choice but to follow through on his prior directive. On a party line vote, he passed a narrow limitation on filibusters that only included executive nominees and judges. Legislative and other business would still be subject to filibuster. Of course, even this measured response that Republicans knew would be undertaken was met with furious indignation. Or so it seemed.

The peculiar thing about their melodramatic objections was that there was an underlying hint of celebration. After all, they didn’t stomp their feet and demand that the rule change be voided. They didn’t swear to reverse this assault on senate tradition and decorum, or repeal it as they swore to do with ObamaCare. Instead they reacted to this reform, that they considered to be akin to tyranny, by declaring that they would make it even worse if given the opportunity. That’s right. This was such an awful turn of events that, should they become the majority party in the senate, they would make the Democrats regret their audacity by exploiting the new filibuster-free environment to its fullest extent. Republicans even promised to expand it to include the elimination of the filibuster for legislation.

McConnell FilibusTurtle

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The parallel to this behavior, were it applied to ObamaCare, would be for Republicans to be so outraged by the insurance reform bill that they would push through universal health care just to show those darned Democrats. Or imagine the GOP so incensed at a Democratic increase in taxes on the rich that they swore to raise them even further when they got the chance. And yes, that doesn’t make any sense. But that’s exactly how they are responding to the filibuster reform.

Very little of the Republican response makes sense. They are arguing that Democrats will regret having nixed the filibuster because it will lead to more Supreme Court justices like Scalia and Thomas. Aside from the concession that Scalia and Thomas are obvious extremists, Republicans seem not to have noticed that they made it to the court despite never having been filibustered. They also seem not to have noticed that the reform passed by the Democrats doesn’t include Supreme Court justices, so it won’t affect future nominees to the high court. Nevertheless, this argument appears to be an invitation to filibuster Supreme Court nominees, an act that would certainly draw the ire of the GOP were it to occur. It should also be noted that the super-patriot Republicans are appalled by what they regard as an assault on the Constitution but, as they are so fond of saying, the word “filibuster” appears nowhere in that document.

Another tack that Republicans are taking is to assert that the changes made by Reid and the Democrats will result in an even more severe partisan divide in Congress. One question: How can the GOP get more partisan than it is now, when they even vote against their own initiatives if the President says he supports them? They could not possibly be more obstructionist if they tried.

So why would Republicans be so giddily looking forward to the new senate rules that prevent them from continuing their filibuster fest? Why would they pick this time to goad Democrats into pulling the nuclear trigger by breaking their promise and throwing up blockades to everything that has come down the pike, even after Democrats warned them that this would be the result? Could it be that they have a renewed sense of confidence that they might retake control of the senate in the wake of the post-ObamaCare turbulence? After having shattered every record for legislative obstructionism, senate Republicans may now be contemplating a favorable outcome in the 2014 midterms, as well as the 2016 presidential election. And if that should come to pass, they don’t want a bitter Democratic minority doing to them what they did to Obama for the past five years (even though Democrats generally do not engage in that sort of petulant behavior). So they create a situation where Reid is compelled to implement filibuster reform, and while pretending to oppose it, they are actually plotting to take advantage of it when they assume the control that they anticipate is coming to them.

It’s a devious plot, but one that may rely too much on their over-confidence in regaining the majority. Today, the President’s polling is in the gutter due to missteps in the execution of ObamaCare. But in a couple of months, if the website is repaired, and people are discovering new and better options for insurance coverage, the polls could just as quickly turn around and Democrats will be soaring past a Republican Party that the public resents for working so hard against their interests. Democrats could even sweep into the majority in the House putting them in a position to enact a broad agenda that includes immigration, guns, the environment, taxes, and more. In short, Republican arrogance may lead to the best hope for Obama to ensure and enhance his legacy.

Bottom line: If Republicans were truly upset with filibuster reform, they would be promising to undo it, just as they have done with ObamaCare? You don’t threaten to expand something that you profess to oppose. Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion is that they secretly support the new rules and may have worked covertly to bring them about. Their outrage is as fake as professional wrestling; as John Boehner’s tan; as a Tea Party intellectual. But their fakery is as real as a heart attack – which is covered under ObamaCare, a bill the GOP also tried, unsuccessfully, to filibuster.

Vile Fox News Audience Wishes That Senate Leader Had Died In Car Accident

Sick, disgusting, lowlife, right-wing scum. That’s the only fitting description for the miscreants who congregate on the Fox News community web site, Fox Nation. As I have previously documented, these hostile heathens have a bloodlust for their political adversaries that is perverted and antithetical to free democracies. They have fantasized about assassinating President Obama (and that’s not the only time). They have dreamed of seeing Nancy Pelosi get her skull bashed in. They celebrated Arlen Specter’s death. And now they cheer about Harry Reid being hurt in a car accident and lament that he survived.

Fox Nation - Harry Reid

These cretins would turn the stomachs of decent Americans. Yet Fox News grants them a platform to spew their violent yearnings. And this isn’t an isolated incident as the links above demonstrate. This is the common behavior on Fox Nation and it is tolerated, even encouraged, by others in the community as well as by Fox News.

This is the nature of the modern conservative. Divisive, vulgar, and overtly hostile. And it is a nature that Fox News promotes on their web sites and on their air. Can anyone forget the classic assassination fantasy by Fox’s Liz Trotta (who is still on the air)?

No one should be surprised that this kind of garbage is disseminated by Fox News. It is an enterprise that perfectly reflects the values (or lack thereof) of Rupert Murdoch, a man whose newspapers were caught hacking into the phone of a murdered schoolgirl. Any business that would do that would not be above encouraging the sort of sickness illustrated here. What’s surprising is that anyone would consider what Fox does to be news.

GOP Panicked By Romney’s Tax Dodge, Flummoxed By Harry Reid

In a show of profound desperation, Republicans have taken to smearing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. They are understandably concerned about Mitt Romney’s determination to cover up his past financial affairs by refusing to release more than one year of tax returns. But their coordinated attack on Reid reveals more about themselves than it does about the target of their wrath.

Reince Priebus: I’m not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn’t filed a single page of tax returns himself.

Sen. Lindsay Graham: What [Reid] did on the floor was so out of bounds, I think he’s lying about his statement, knowing something about Romney.

John Sununu: Look, Harry Reid is a bumbling Senate leader […] They have pointed out that Harry is lying.

Oddly enough, the Republican whiners are doing precisely what they are accusing Reid of doing. They have no evidence that Reid is lying and have not bothered to substantiate their accusations in any way. They are just lashing out wildly with undisguised loathing. They might have a valid case if they merely complained that Reid has offered no proof for his assertion that a Bain investor told him that Romney didn’t pay any taxes for ten years. But to call Reid a liar only raises new questions about Romney.

Reid’s critics have no way actually knowing whether or not Reid is lying. And the reason they don’t know is because Romney insists on keeping his tax returns a closely guarded secret. Romney could clear this up in a matter of minutes by pulling out copies of the returns that he handed over to John McCain when McCain was vetting him for the VP slot. But apparently Romney believes that McCain is more deserving of this vital background information than the American people.

Romney's Taxes

Romney has an obvious disdain for Americans, who he doesn’t believe are worthy of judging him. He regards his wealth and social caste as automatic exemptions from scrutiny. And he is just as reticent to reveal his political positions as he is his tax returns. He won’t disclose details of his foreign policy, his economic plan, or the budget cuts he proposes. And he gives the same reason for clamming up about all of it. He says that were his taxes/agenda to be public they would be criticized by his opponents. Well, isn’t that exactly what’s supposed to occur in a political campaign? The President’s record is fully available for consideration, but Romney has chosen to exhibit his cowardice and a distinct lack of confidence in what his record would reveal.

So what’s Romney afraid of? If a candidate fears having his positions be known to the public then they must be pretty awful positions. And if he fears having his background known, then there must be something awfully damaging that he’s trying to hide. And if not, then why wouldn’t he come clean and prove all of his critics wrong?

Put Up Or Shut Up: That Goes For Mitt Romney Too

The feud between Mitt Romney and Harry Reid continues to escalate. What began as a provocation by Reid is developing into a major skirmish, mainly because a thin-skinned Romney was dumb enough to take the bait.

So Reid announces that he has a source who asserts that Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years. Reid carefully noted that it was not his speculation, but the testimony of a Bain Capital investor who had cause to know what he was talking about.

OK. So Romney is understandably perturbed. But rather than release his taxes and making a fool of Reid, Romney gets huffy and says…

“It’s time for Harry to put up or shut up. Harry is going to have to describe who it is he spoke with because that’s totally and completely wrong. It’s untrue, dishonest, and inaccurate. It’s wrong. So I’m — I’m looking forward to have Harry reveal his sources and we will probably find out it’s the White House.”

For Romney to demand that “Harry” (an intentionally disrespectful way of referencing the Senate Majority Leader) “put up or shut up” is laughable considering the whole controversy exists because Romney refuses to “put up” his tax returns as almost every presidential candidate has done for the last 40 years. What Romney is asking is for Reid to prove that Romney has paid taxes for the last ten years. Reid cannot prove that. Only Romney can. What’s more, Romney inserts an unsupported accusation that Reid’s source is the White House. If Romney has any evidence of that he should put up or shut up.

Yesterday Reid got some support from CNN’s Dana Bash who reported that she has a source who corroborates Reid’s source. So this is getting stickier by the hour for Romney. The bottom line for this affair was best articulated by conservative George Will, who is one of many Republicans calling on Romney to come clean. Will said…

“The cost of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.”

That about sums it up. Romney clearly knows that there is something in his returns that would be more damaging to his campaign than the beating he is taking from both Democrats and Republicans for being obstinate. So, What’s he hiding?

Mitt's Maxim

Michael (Injun) Steele Calls For Harry (Negro) Reid To Resign

The press is going bonkers over the latest pseudo-scandal it is attempting to whip up. The headlines are popping up everywhere and with ever greater sensationalism. The chairman of the Republican Party wants the leader of the Democrats in the Senate to resign for using inappropriate language.

  • Steele calls on Reid to resign, Washington Post
  • GOP Chairman Pressures Reid on Obama Remarks, New York Times
  • Republican Steele Says Reid Should Step Down From Leader Post, BusinessWeek
  • Senate leader must go following ‘Negro’ remark: Republicans, AFP
  • GOP chair: Reid should step down following race remark, CNN
  • Steele tells Reid to step down, Politico
  • Steele: Reid should resign Senate post, UPI
  • Republicans call on Senator Reid to quit post, Reuters
  • Steele: Reid Should Quit Leadership Post, Wall Street Journal
  • Michael Steele Shocks the World by Calling for Harry Reid to Step Down, New York Magazine

And on it goes. Personally, I wouldn’t mind in the least if Reid surrendered the Majority Leader post. I’ve been advocating a change in leadership for almost two years. This may not be the way I would have chosen for him to go, but I believe the Democratic Party would be better served by a more aggressive and tactically savvy leader. Reid is responsible for some of the most infuriating capitulations in recent memory. From FISA to Iraq/Afghanistan to health care, he seems determined to begin every negotiation from a disadvantaged position.

That said, it is utterly absurd for Michael Steele to be taking the lead in calling for Reid to step down due to Reid’s use of the word “negro.” While Reid’s comment was certainly inappropriate, the word in itself is not pejorative, it was said in private, and in context it was complimentary to Obama. However, just a few days ago Steele publicly used an unambiguously insulting term for Native Americans: “Injun.” Yet Steele defends his criticism of Reid and dismisses his own intolerance. When asked if he should resign himself, Steele told Chris Wallace

Steele: No, absolutely not. Why should I Chris? I’m pushing the ball. I’m raising the money. I’m winning elections. I have got the base fired up. […] I wasn’t intending to say a racial slur at all. The reality is that’s not the same as what we were talking about before.

Of course it’s not the same if it refers to himself. And since he didn’t intend to say a racial slur we should all just drop the subject – except Reid should still resign. This couldn’t be more hypocritical if Steele had insisted that “That cracker should resign for saying negro.”

Republicans might want to see if they can find another spokesperson on this issue. Steele doesn’t exactly hold the moral high ground. What’s more, his pompous self-glorification regarding his fundraising and electoral prowess is mightily overblown considering that Republicans have lost more races than not during his tenure (especially the NY-23 embarrassment), and he is bankrupting the party while stuffing his own pockets. The only people he is firing up are tea party activists who are after his hide, and deep-pocketed donors whom he has motivated to cease all contributions as long as he is chairman.

The substance of these events are decidedly negative for Steele and his party, yet somehow the media is still spinning it as a problem for Reid and the Democrats. Can someone please remind why we are supposed to believe that the media is liberal?

No Success Like Failure

In Bob Dylan’s classic “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” he makes the counter-intuitive observation that “There’s no success like failure.” Well, much of the establishment of America’s politics and press have taken that to heart.

The latest example is that of the Senate Democrats who have opted to let Sen. Joe Lieberman get away with political treason. Lieberman, who was ejected from the Democratic Party by his constituents in Connecticut, spent much of the last year campaigning against Barack Obama. In the course of the campaign he declared that Obama was too inexperienced to be president, was unsupportive of the troops, may have been a Marxist, and many more insults to his character and ability.

Today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that there would be no repercussions for Lieberman’s betrayal. Lieberman would be allowed to keep his chairmanship of the powerful Homeland Security Committee. What Reid has done is to compound Lieberman’s betrayal with one of his own. And the rest of the Democratic Caucus who went along with it are equally to blame. Reid told reporters that he didn’t want to pursue a course of vengeance. But selecting Party leadership based on loyalty and shared goals isn’t revenge, it’s common sense. And besides, Dylan also realized that, “Even the pawn must hold a grudge.”

The problem is not as simple as Lieberman being an untrustworthy weasel who ought to pay a price for his deceit. The problem is that Lieberman was an ineffective chairman even before the campaign. He has long been an advocate of George W. Bush’s policy in Iraq and he refused to hold hearings that would have provided necessary oversight because they might also have reflected poorly on the President he adored. The same is true for other matters under the Committee’s jurisdiction like Katrina, torture, and warrantless wiretapping. Lieberman should have been ousted as chair if for no other reason than that he would not represent the new administration’s priorities.

Senate Democrats have an obligation to manage their institution in accordance with the political aspirations of their constituents. They failed to meet that obligation today. But Dylan foresaw the consequences of failure, and the Lieberman affair is only one instance in recent history that proves Dylan’s wisdom.

    Successful Failures:

  • John McCain failed in the election a couple of weeks ago, yet he is now regarded as an elder statesman who has already met with the President-elect.
  • Joe Lieberman rode on McCain’s failed coattails but gets to retain his committee chair.
  • Hillary Clinton failed in the Democratic primary where she said that all Obama would bring to the presidency was a speech in 2002. She belittled his view that foreign leaders should be engaged with diplomacy. But now she may become the focal point of his foreign policy as Secretary of State.
  • Sarah Palin also failed in the election, yet she is now regarded as a front-runner for 2012 (I hope).
  • Mike Huckabee failed to win the Republican nomination, but was rewarded with a program on Fox News.
  • Corporations like AIG and Lehman Brothers failed to the tune of billions of dollars, and they get handed billions more courtesy of American taxpayers.
  • Now the automobile industry is joining the failures in financial services in line for bailout fortunes.
  • Last, but not least, are the multitude of pundits like Dick Morris, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, William Krystal, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, etc., who failed repeatedly to make a correct assessment of anything that happened in the last year, yet they keep their media megaphones, and in some cases get promotions and raises.

At some point, reasonable folks will have to wonder why losers are so often rewarded, when more deserving players are snubbed. The benefits of membership in exclusive clubs like the U.S. Senate and the Mainstream Media are clearly lucrative for the lucky few. But the rest of us are saddled with less representative government, more debt, and bigger headaches brought on by louder and stupider commentators.

Those in politics and the press who exercise such disrespect for the people, are going to regret their self-centeredness some day. They are going to learn that we will eventually find alternatives to their protectionist institutions. They can’t fail upward forever because, in the end, “Failure is no success at all.”