The Death Of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Is Instantly Politicized By Callous Republicans

The sudden and unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has produced a flurry of reactions from across the political spectrum. Everyone offering a comment has begun with praise for his public service and intellect, and expressions of condolences for his family.

Antonin Scalia

Unfortunately, Republicans have wasted no time in turning this personal tragedy into a political opportunity. GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (also members of the Senate) added to their sympathies a demand that President Obama refrain from nominating a replacement and leave that to whoever is president in January of 2017. Others, including Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who holds the power to vote or not, have made similar demands. After offering her condolences, Hillary Clinton responded to the GOP by saying that their intention to leave the seat vacant dishonors our Constitution.

There are several problems with the Republican’s overt obstructionism, starting with the fact that it is the constitutional duty of the President to nominate a replacement when there is a vacancy. It would be wholly inappropriate for him to simply ignore that obligation for political purposes. The Senate could refuse to confirm the nominee, or even allow it to come up for a vote. Of course, that would be an abdication of their constitutional duty, but they could do it. The President, however, should not be complicit with that negligence. The Founders intended the Supreme Court to reflect the mood of the nation as represented by the chief executive — not the mood of the nation as represented by the chief executive unless he’s in the last year of his administration.

Another reason that the President should nominate a replacement as soon as possible, and the Senate should confirm, is that this year the Supreme Court has a particularly heavy calendar. There are many cases waiting to be heard, and some are critical issues that will have far reaching effect. The litigants ought not to be penalized by self-serving politicians. And there has never been a vacancy on the Supreme Court for a year, which is what the GOP obstructionists are proposing. Some of the decisions to be made by the court this term could…

  • Limit the ability of unions to collectively bargain (Friedrichs).
  • Further restrict the use of race in college admissions (Fisher).
  • Drastically limit the ability of people to band together in class actions to stop corporate wrongdoing (Spokeo, Campbell-Ewald, Tyson Foods).
  • Dismantle environmental regulations (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission).
  • Expand the scope of forced arbitration (DIRECTV and Zaborowski).
  • Further undermine the voting rights of communities of color in urban areas (Evenwel).
  • Sanction far-right efforts to radically restrict women’s abortion rights and ability to obtain contraceptive medical coverage (Whole Woman’s Health and Zubik).

If a new justice is not confirmed, the pending cases would be heard by a short-handed court. And since this court has been divided ideologically with a five to four conservative advantage, there is a great possibility of frequent ties should this vacancy remain. In the event of a 4/4 tie, the ruling of the lower court would stand. From the Republican perspective, this might not be to their advantage. After eight years of the Obama presidency the district courts currently have a majority of Democratic nominated judges. Consequently, those lower court rulings may be more to the liking of liberals. So any effort by the GOP to obstruct the confirmation of a new nominee by Obama may have the opposite effect of what they intend. Senate Republicans also risk the possibility that they will not be in the majority next year and the next president, if Democratic, would have far more leeway in who they nominate.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The bottom line is that our government is supposed to work on behalf of the people, not at the whim of the politicians. By obstructing Obama’s constitutional mandate, Republicans would only further cement the impression of them as fomenting division and gridlock. In an election year where the public is fed up with political game-playing, that will likely hurt Republicans at the polls. On the plus side, it might finally elevate the appointment of Supreme Court justices as an election issue. That would be a good thing that should have happened long ago.

Update: President Obama offered his condolences. He also responded to the GOP’s irresponsible and callous politicization of Scalia’s passing, saying in part that…

“Today is a time to remember Justice Scalia’s legacy. I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. And there will be plenty of time for me to so and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility and to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They are bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy.”

Not The Onion: GOP Congressman Already Floating Impeachment For Hillary Clinton

The Huffington Post is reporting that Alabama’s Mo Brooks isn’t taking any chances when it comes to hounding Hillary Clinton out of an office that she hasn’t even won yet:

“Hillary Clinton isn’t president yet. She hasn’t even won the Democratic nomination. But a Republican congressman is already getting ready for the opportunity to impeach her — on the first day of her hypothetical presidency.”

[Brooks said that] “In my judgement, with respect to Hillary Clinton, she will be a unique president if she is elected by the public next November, because the day she’s sworn in is the day that she’s subject to impeachment because she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Where do Republicans find these weasels? What’s especially funny to me about this is that two years ago I wrote a satirical article that proposed this very same idea – except I was joking. This seems like a good time to re-post it here in full:

May 12, 2013
Vowing to get an early start on efforts to remove Hillary Clinton from the White House, Republican leaders in congress have announced their intention to hold hearings on what they claim are the high crimes and misdemeanors that Hillary Clinton will commit once she assumes the presidency in January of 2017.

Hillary Clinton

Although she has not yet been sworn in to office (or elected, or announced her candidacy) Republicans are determined not waste any time in initiating her impeachment. House Speaker John Boehner told reporters that…

“We do not want to repeat the mistakes we made in the previous [i.e. current] administration where we waited too long to get the ball rolling. After all, President Obama was in office for nearly a month before we took meaningful action to remove him.”

Some members of the GOP attribute the failure to impeach Obama on the late start they got on manufacturing allegations of malfeasance and ginning up outrage over imaginary scandals. Consequently, they chased after flimsy accusations of foreign birth and socialist aspirations that never caught on with the public. That left them facing a reelection campaign dominated by impotent sound bites of whether or not small businesses “built that” and desperate rejections of real data including poll results and unemployment numbers. Republican strategist Karl Rove Rove addressed these shortcomings saying…

“We are proud of the fallacies we created and promoted. No one worked harder to invent phony issues than we did. Could we have done better? Should we have connected Obama to Hitler more often, or the spread of the Bubonic Plague? Sure, but it’s always easier to criticize with hindsight.”

This is not to say that there weren’t zealous attempts to plunder the Obama presidency. Republican politicians, with the help of Fox News and the Koch brothers, worked feverishly to construct controversies designed to hobble the administration. They labored over “Fast and Furious,” Solyndra, Bill Ayres, and ObamaCare, which they unsuccessfully took all the way to the Supreme Court. Each of these affairs, and several more, were alleged to be Obama’s Watergate,” but none of them gained any traction with a populace that proved to be smarter than the Tea Party – admittedly, not a very high bar.

The latest episode for which conservative muckrakers are crying wolf (or Watergate, as the case may be) is the tragedy that took the lives of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. However, even with the help of near blanket broadcasting of Benghazi hysteria by Fox News, the utter lack of any compelling evidence of wrongdoing has turned the whole affair into a mushy smear campaign notable only for the tacky theatrics of the accusers. Even the specter of a cover-up fell flat when the proponents of that theory could not explain what exactly was being covered-up. “We forgot that little detail,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Tea Party-UT).

Rather than risk a similar fate in the event that Clinton runs for and wins the presidency in 2016, Republicans are casting their lots now. Since it doesn’t matter whether the object of their scorn has actually done anything unlawful, why wait until the former senator and Secretary of State is in office to try her for the crimes they are planning to pin on her no matter what reality ultimately serves up. It’s a strategy that they believe conserves a great deal of political energy that would otherwise be wasted on honest politicking and the responsible stewardship of government.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Senator Mitch McConnell, who declared shortly after Obama’s first election victory that his primary legislative goal was to “make him a one-term president,” is devoting the same measure of commitment to the effort to pre-impeach Clinton. In remarks to the GOP caucus last week he reminded his fellow Republicans that their priorities ought not to change just because the complexion and gender of the person in the White House does.

“We have spent five years obstructing everything this president has attempted to do, from passing bills, to appointing judges and cabinet officials. This is not the time to let our guard down and be distracted by the burdens of actually governing or helping the nation recover from adversity.”

Asked for a comment when Clinton was told of the Republican campaign to impeach her, she said incredulously “What the fuck?” And walked away laughing uncontrollably. Her office later followed up with this statement:

“We have always known that these clowns were certifiable, and now we are seeing some of the best evidence of that. The Secretary has not yet made a decision as to whether or not she will run for president, but if she does she expects to campaign vigorously and appeal to the hearts and minds of the American people.

She also expects to face dipshits in the Republican Party who, with their pals at Fox News, will manufacture insane theories and conspiracies, and she plans to wipe up the pavement with their lame asses.”

Like it was yesterday. And once again, reality trumps satire. But don’t get me started on Trump.

Hillary Clinton Launches 2016 Presidential Campaign And The GOP Goes (Even More) Nuts

Here it is. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Hillary Clinton announced that she is running for President of the United States of America with a video (below) that features a cross section of Americans engaged in readying themselves for a variety of life’s challenges.

The launching of the campaign comes after weeks of the sort of teasing that every candidate does prior to making their candidacy official. It also comes after weeks (years) of vitriol from Republican pundits and politicians determined to turn Clinton into a comic book villain who aspires to thrust the world into darkness. That isn’t hyperbole. Just yesterday at the NRA’s annual conference, Wayne LaPierre literally made that charge saying that “Hillary Rodham Clinton will bring a permanent darkness of deceit and despair forced upon the American people to endure.”

Recalling all of the predictions of doom and gloom spewed by Republicans alleging that President Obama was the harbinger of the Apocalypse, it hardly seems newsworthy to note that they are just as adamant, and delusional, about Clinton’s alleged desire for the decline of western civilization. You can almost hear Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell paraphrasing himself with regard to making Obama a one-term president.”

McConnell/Clinton One-Term

That legislative strategy did not work out very well for the Republican Party. Nor did the relentless fear mongering about how Obama’s policies would kill jobs, tank the economy, abolish liberty, increase domestic terrorism, and generally destroy America. Those thunderous accusations landed with a resounding squeak that culminated with former Vice-President Dick Cheney declaring that Obama was “the worst president in my lifetime without question.” He obviously forget his former boss, as well as all of the facts.

Republicans aren’t wasting any time tarring Clinton with the same brush. This is a trend that started long ago. In fact, two years ago News Corpse reported that the GOP had already begun their campaign to “Impeach Hillary” way before the election, or even any campaigning. Republicans are so terrified of Hillary Clinton that they are promoting Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

As for Clinton, she appears to be taking a more populist tone than last time around. Her focus on middle class citizens working hard to manage the important things in life – family, career, community, security – will put her in good standing with average Americans. She emphasized that her campaign would be about people, not herself. That was the overarching theme of the video in which she doesn’t even appear until two-thirds of the way through. And when she does appear she advances that theme saying that…

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

In order for her to follow through on that, she will have put some distance between herself and the big money interests with which she has long been associated. She will have to work for stricter banking regulations that prohibit them from ever again becoming “too big to fail.” She will have to pursue policies that correct the imbalances that have produced the worst economic inequality in history. She will have to support efforts to get money out politics. In short, she will have to appeal to the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party. We’ll see how that plays out.

In the meantime Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and the Republican National Committee, have already released rebuttal videos making predictably venomous criticisms of Clinton. Paul may have won the Dipshit Award for Political Hackery with his laughably lame anti-Hillary store on his website. Don’t miss the limited edition, non-functional, Hillary Clinton hard drive he is selling to his idiot supporters for $100.00. Did I mention that it is non-functional? That’s the Republican Party for you, and it’s emblematic of their economic doctrine: Shell out lots of money for shit that don’t work. This is gonna be a fun campaign.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

KNEE-JERKS: The Predictable Ass-Holiness Of Fox News And The GOP Post-SOTU

In a development that will surprise only a few mentally deficient cave dwellers, President Obama’s State of the Union speech was greeted by Republican politicians and conservative pundits with barefaced disdain. Naturally, Fox News took the lead in developing a hostile rapid response in order to provide the President’s foes with an easily referenced collection of attack themes. In fact, Fox was so diligent that their oppositional strategy was actually launched before the speech even began.

To set the scene, Obama presented a rosy picture of the nation after six years of his presidency. He spoke of the economic renewal that has created more than 11 million new jobs, reduced the deficit by two-thirds, and produced unprecedented private sector growth. He addressed many of the issues that have long been a part of the Democratic agenda including tax reform that eliminates loopholes for the rich and benefits the middle-class, enhancing opportunities for education, reducing our dependency on foreign oil and advancing the development and use of alternative fuels, Climate Change, equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage, Net Neutrality, and access to affordable and effective health care. And he noted that the successes of the last six years were achieved despite the fact that “At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits.”

So how did the right respond to these facts? By denying them, of course. And they topped that off with some distractions and ad hominem insults. The apparent primary line of attack from the right is to accuse Obama of not having heard the message sent by voters last November. However, if there was any message at all it was delivered so faintly that the President could be excused for not hearing it. It was the lowest voter turnout in 70 years. Sixty-two percent of Americans didn’t vote at all, and the Republican victories were achieved with about 20% of eligible voters. That’s not exactly a mandate.

The GOP complained that the American people want him to work with Congress. But their definition of that is to abandon his principles and capitulate to Republicans. Obama tried to work with the GOP for six years and was rebuffed at every turn. It’s ironic that Republicans demand that Obama pay heed to the election results when they so flagrantly ignored them in 2008 and 2012, even plotting to oppose everything he did from day one of his administration. Where were the Republicans insisting on respect for the decision of the voters when Mitch McConnell declared, on inauguration day, that his first priority was making Obama a one term president? And it should be noted that Obama enjoyed landslide victories with much larger voter participation.

It didn’t take long for one of the points Obama made in his speech to get rolled over by the Fox News editorial positioning. The President sought to inspire a more substantive relationship between the White House and Congress saying…

“There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for?-?arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision. […] A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than ‘gotcha’ moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.”

The response to this by Fox anchors and guests was to embrace trivialization and fake controversies. Within seconds of the end of the speech, Bret Baier complained that Obama had not said the name “Al Qaeda” during the address. Of course, Obama did speak at length about terrorism and his administration’s commitment to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the enemy. The problem is that if you don’t specifically say “Al Qaeda” you are criticized for it. If you do say it you are criticized for not saying “jihad.” If you do say that you are criticized for not saying “Islamist.” If you do say that you are criticized for not saying ….. Well, you get the idea. Obama would have to make a list of every word the right obsesses over and make sure to stuff them all into every one of his speeches.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The Fox News collective, and the Republican Party they serve (or is it the other way around) suffers from Oppositional Defiant Disorder: a persistent pattern of tantrums, arguing, and angry or disruptive behavior, generally associated with children. A perfect illustration of this is the way the Fox Nation website characterized a post-SOTU article by the Associated Press. Their headline was “AP Fact Check Obliterates Obama’s SOTU.”

Fox Nation SOTU

To be sure, the AP took a decidedly biased and negative tone, as the so-called liberal media usually does, but even so, they could not find substantive fault with Obama’s speech, much less obliteration. Here are the “facts” they allegedly checked:

  • Obama: At this moment – with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry and booming energy production – We have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.
    — The AP’s analysis essentially concurred saying that “Job growth has been healthy. […] Inflation-adjusted median household income…is about 4 percent higher than when it bottomed out in 2011. […] Booming energy production is indeed a reality.”
  • Obama: I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college to zero.
    — This, of course, is not a refutable fact and the AP didn’t bother to refute it. They simply argued that Republicans in Congress will not be receptive to the plan. But that knee-jerk obstructionism has been the GOP stance ever since Obama became President.
  • Obama: We’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history.
    — The AP acknowledged that this is true saying that “Expansion of the massive Pacific islands monument puts Obama on top.”
  • Obama: Thanks to a growing economy, the recovery is touching more and more lives. Wages are finally starting to rise again. We know that more small-business owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than at any time since 2007.
    — Yes, said the AP: “A survey of small businesses by the National Federation of Independent Business does show that a rising proportion plans to raise wages.”

It appears that Fox News is confusing the concept of “obliteration” with the diametrically opposed concept of “nearly complete concurrence.” That degree of cognitive failure explains the antsy grumbling of FoxPods and the GOP who are distressed that Obama has not concluded that the last two years of his presidency are irrelevant and that he should work on his presidential library and let Republicans in Congress govern the country. And it also explains how they can insist that his speech was defiant and combative despite these closing remarks:

“If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand. If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree. And I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger.”

It would be naive not to recognize that this sort of rhetorical communion is common in political discourse and is often insincere. But it was nevertheless an outstretched hand and the GOP ought to at least try to grasp it before they swat it down. But that would be totally out of character for a party that has made rancid animosity the hallmark of their tenure.

On Immigration: Republicans Have No Clue What The American People Want

Last week President Obama defied the wild-eyed yammering of Republicans who claimed that any executive action addressing immigration reform would be be unconstitutional and mark him as a lawless tyrant who is thwarting the will of the American people. The President ignored their rancorous grumbling and announced a reasonable plan of prosecutorial discretion that has been invoked by every president for the past fifty years, and which 135 experts agree is legal. Not to mention, it is in keeping with our nation’s longstanding values of inclusion and opportunity.

Obama: We Were Once Strangers Too

Notwithstanding these facts, the GOP is so fixated on opposing anything that this president does, they took their positions to the media and brazenly lied. With characteristic lock-step unity, they insisted that they knew what Americans want and that Obama was flouting their clearly expressed wishes. Here is a sampling of their interpretation of the public mood:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz: This last election was a referendum on amnesty. And the American people overwhelmingly rose up and said, no, we don’t want lawless amnesty.
  • John Boehner: By ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left.
  • Mitch McConnell: If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act.
  • Sarah Palin: [Obama is] betraying our trust [by going] against the wishes of the American people.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions: The American people rebelled against the President’s executive amnesty.
  • Rick Santorum: This unilateral action sends a message that the President believes his opinion should supersede the will of the American people and democratic process.

These statements could not be more definitive in their estimation of what the American people think about Obama’s executive action on immigration. They could also not be more wrong. Where these wingnuts got these ideas is a complete mystery. It certainly doesn’t reflect either the exit polling following the election earlier this month. Nor does it reflect the more recent polling that spelled out the precise conditions of the policy. Hart Research found that…

“…voters overwhelmingly backed President Obama’s move: 67 percent viewed it favorably, while just 28 percent viewed it unfavorably. The support was fairly bipartisan, with 91 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 41 percent of Republicans viewing the executive action favorably. Among Tea Party Republicans, however, 64 percent opposed the policy while just 30 percent viewed it favorably.”

Setting aside the Tea Party (always a good idea), it is clear that Obama’s views are more aligned to those of the American people than with the bombastic and presumptive Republicans. And not only do people support the President’s action, they agree that he is acting within law by 51% to 41%.

What is most curious about this whole debate is that the GOP has such hatred for the executive action Obama took, but they refuse to do the simplest, quickest thing to nullify it. All they have to do is pass a law. They don’t even have to write one. It already exists and was passed by a bipartisan majority in the Senate. If John Boehner would allow it to be voted on in the House it would pass tomorrow, be signed by the President and – poof – no executive action.

Instead the GOP talk of blocking every bill and presidential nominee that comes before them. They threaten to file lawsuits that would take years to wind their way through the courts and would be moot by the time they were heard. And they even raise the specter of impeachment, another ultra-drastic response that would take months and accomplish nothing but making Joe Biden the next president.

In conclusion, Obama is not acting like a tyrant and Americans don’t buy the criticism of him as one. However, Americans do favor his approach to immigration reform by wide margins despite the protestations from the GOP. The only thing that Republicans have to gain from their current strategy is a generous pension after they are retired from public service in 2016. We wish them luck.

Democrats And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (For Republicans)

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: Election day 2014 sucked elephant balls. It is saddling America with a Republican senate that is notable for being unproductive and adversarial. It’s new leader is a hyper-partisan, Washington fossil whose only agenda is obstructionism. One of its new members is an Agenda 21 conspiracy nut who carries a gun to defend herself from the government she now represents. Florida and Kansas returned to office the two least popular governors in the country. And the right-wing noise machine is going to be gloating feverishly for weeks.

But the real story underlying this election is one that the media will almost certainly fail to address. Despite the election returns, America hates the Republican Party and its policies. The turnout is estimated to be about 38%. That means that the GOP victory was achieved with a majority of a little more than one-third of the electorate, or about 20%. That is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Republican agenda.

Election Turnout 2014

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The demographic makeup of the voters this year was decidedly older and whiter. It was also more concentrated in the South which accounted for 34% of all votes. The rest of the country came in a substantial nine to twelve points lower.

Just two years ago President Obama was resoundingly reelected along with increasing the number of Democrats in both houses of Congress. The turnout then was 58%, or 53% higher than 2014. Exit polls show that both parties are underwater in voter approval, but Democrats are still favored over Republicans 44% to 40%. Exit polling also gives Obama a 41% approval rating, compared to just 13% for Congress.

On the basis of this fractured and biased sliver of the electorate, Chris Wallace of Fox News declared this morning that “The Democratic Party brand is damaged.” But further examination of the exit polls says that isn’t true. On virtually every policy question, voters sided with the Democrats. That includes ObamaCare, immigration reform, increasing the minimum wage, same-sex marriage, legalizing marijuana, abortion, and climate change. And when asked about preferences for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton is leading every GOP opponent (Clinton 42%, Jeb Bush 29%, Rand Paul 26%, Chris Christie 24%, and Rick Perry 24%).

2016 holds more bad news for Republicans and their new senate majority. The GOP will be defending 24 seats, as compared to only 10 for the Democrats. Nine of the those GOP seats are in states won by Obama in 2012. So are all of the Democratic seats. With a larger and more representative electorate it is almost a certainty that the senate will flip back to the Democrats. And with a popular and history-making candidate like Clinton that outcome is even more likely.

In the meantime, we can expect some epic battles to ensue. Although Mitch McConnell made some perfunctory remarks signalling bipartisan cooperation, his resume suggests a different course entirely. He told supporters last night that “Just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict.” That coming from the man who presided over more filibusters than any senate in history.

But the battles will not be limited to those between the two parties. McConnell is going to experience some of the misery of John Boehner as he tries to herd the Tea Party contingent of his own party into some semblance of unity. Don’t expect Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or Mike Lee or Joni Ernst to fall obediently in line. In fact, Cruz is already announcing his intention to prosecute the President for many of the phony scandals for which the GOP-run House failed to find any wrongdoing. He told Fox News last night that…

“I hope we begin serious, systematic, sober hearings, examining executive abuse, regulatory abuse, lawlessness, abuse of power. Whether it is IRS wrongly targeting citizens or the debacle of Benghazi and four Americans who lost their lives and why more was not done to save them, or whether it’s the lawlessness that pervaded Obamacare as the president and executive branch has tried to pick and choose which laws to follow. I hope we see serious oversight on those fronts.”

That’s a path that leads to increased animosity and the “perpetual conflict” that McConnell says he hopes to avoid. But with Cruz and Paul and Rubio amongst those in his caucus who are contemplating a presidential run, can McConnell prevent them from hijacking the senate for their own purposes? And will their purposes include attempts to impeach Obama as some Republicans and conservative pundits have already advocated?

The next two years are going to be a bumpy ride for both parties and, unfortunately, the American people. There is much that we cannot anticipate at this time. What we can safely assume is that the extremist, Tea Party wing of the GOP will deliver some histrionics and hilarity. And Fox News will cover all of it as if it were sober statesmanship. So buckle up, folks. And be glad that the ride is over in only two years.

Shameless self-promotion…
Get my book Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

What’s Wrong With America? Why Is Anyone Voting Republican?

A new poll from Fox News affirms what virtually every other poll has found when people are asked to name the most important problem facing the country. And as James Carville noted long ago, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Economic Poll

The Fox poll had an overwhelming 43% of registered voters citing the economy as the most important issue. That was two and a half times more than the next three issues, immigration, healthcare, and foreign policy.

Nearly every economic indicator shows that the economy has been booming in recent years. The Obama administration has presided over the biggest and most enduring advance in fifty years. The Dow reached another all-time high today. Unemployment is 5.7%, nearly half of what Obama inherited from George W. Bush. GDP growth increased at an annual rate of 3.5% in the third quarter of 2014. Housing is up, interest rates are down, inflation is imperceptible, and consumer confidence rose in October to its highest level since 2007.

The only significant low points are average wages and public sector employment. In both of those matters it has been the Republican Party that has thrown obstacles into the path of progress. Democrats are universally in support of a minimum wage increase that economists agree would produce higher demand for goods and services, thus stimulating job growth. And Obama has been trying to drag the GOP along to allocate funds for infrastructure development which would not only create jobs, but improve the environment for businesses to succeed. Yet conservative naysayers continue to stifle these measures for no reason other than to hurt the President and his party.

Given the success on so many levels of the President’s economic record, and the fact that the economy is the number one issue on the minds of voters, the obvious question is: Why on Earth are Democrats struggling to hold their position in Congress? The American people ought to be rewarding success and punishing the obstacles to it. With a more cooperative legislative branch, Obama could achieve a great deal more in the last two years of his presidency.

And therein lies the answer to the question. The last thing the GOP wants is for Obama to be successful. It’s what they pledged on the eve of his first inauguration when Mitch McConnell declared that his top priority was to make Obama a one-term president. It’s what their de facto leader, Rush Limbaugh, pronounced when he said that he wants Obama to fail. It’s why they orchestrated a shutdown last year that achieved nothing but cost $24 billion. And it’s why they have a kneejerk opposition to anything that Obama proposes, even if it was originally proposed by a Republican.

Also notable is that the other issues cited as important to voters also have seen measurable improvement during the Obama years. Illegal immigration is way down, while simultaneously domestic responses to the plight of undocumented residents have become much more compassionate and rational. As for health care, more Americans are covered by insurance than ever, and at less cost. And their coverage is more comprehensive and cannot be denied due to preexisting conditions.

Nevertheless, midterm polling is inexplicably showing tight senate races in several battleground states. With all of the good news, Democrats should be running away with this. But Republicans have expertly managed a campaign of dishonest negativity that has distorted the debate and damaged the perception of Democratic candidates. They have also had the benefit of bottomless barrels of cash from billionaires like the Koch brothers with vested interests that do not align with those of ordinary Americans.

Still, in most of these states the Democrats would be leading comfortably if the poll queried the entire electorate. But when constraining the poll to “likely” voters, the numbers fall decidedly against the Democrats. That’s because many of the traditionally Democratic constituents tend to sit out midterm elections.

If Democrats can reverse that trend through voter education, and a strong ground game getting out the vote on election day, the pollsters and the Republicans and the media will be shocked by the results. But it will take money and hard work to do it. Any encouragement you can give to people you know to insure that they vote will pay off in dividends. Especially in races that are so close. And here are a couple of other ways you can help:

Contribute to or volunteer with… or Democracy for America

You’ll be glad you did. The work, calling other Democrats like yourself, is fun and rewarding. And any funds can help to expand the outreach. The alternative is to wake up Wednesday morning with the prospect of a senate run by Mitch McConnell where every committee chair is a Republican who wishes harm on this President and his agenda. Victory is not out of reach, but it will require some determination and commitment. So please consider everything that you can do to be a part of a major electoral upset that will put the Tea Party on its knees.

Lying Scumbag James O’Keefe Returns With Predictably Dishonest Hit Piece On Alison Grimes

When you’ve spent your whole career producing feverishly partisan videos that have been denounced as brazenly deceitful by everyone from Rachel Maddow to Glenn Beck, it isn’t particularly newsworthy when a new one is posted that exhibits the same pattern of deception and reeks of the pathetic amateurism that has become your trademark.

James O'Keefe

Of course we’re talking about the infantile news defiler, James O’Keefe, who seems to have no limit to the copious quantities of shame he can endure at his own hand. This week he debuted his latest ode to defamation (video below) aimed at slandering Democratic Kentucky senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. The video purports to cast Grimes as a cynical and hypocritical politician who will say anything to get elected. Setting aside the naivete of that theme when discussing politics, O’Keefe’s opus fails utterly to prove its contention. You have be pretty incompetent if you can’t successfully find some self-serving duplicity in any modern politico, but O’Keefe manages to hit that elusive mark.

As has been the case for his most recent efforts, they are ignored by reputable media, but picked up by the wingnut press like the Free Beacon, Breitbart News, and the Fox News community website, Fox Nation. In the introduction to his dubiously named Project Veritas video, O’Keefe says that…

“Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Alison Grimes has vehemently and repeatedly claimed to oppose President Obama’s coal and environmental policies in what has become an increasingly significant campaign issue.

“Project Veritas Action went undercover in multiple Grimes campaign offices to determine if her opposition to the core principles of her own political party is genuine or an intentional deception.”

On one hand, it might seem like O’Keefe would be the perfect sleuth to uncover “intentional deception” given his personal experience as a prolific producer of it. However, the only thing that O’Keefe manages to do is surreptitiously record a parade of Grimes supporters offering their own opinions of what may or may not be on her mind. These folks are well-meaning and sincere backers of Grimes’ candidacy, but they are also gullible and unsophisticated in the unscrupulous ways of snakes like O’Keefe. Consequently, they got caught saying that they don’t believe that Grimes’s commitment to the coal industry in Kentucky is genuine.

This is the sort of raw meat that sets O’Keefe and his fellow vultures to frothing at the mouth. But to anyone who takes an open-eyed view of the material, there is really nothing of substance about which to get excited. The people that O’Keefe’s minions hoodwinked had no official responsibility for the Grimes campaign messaging. They were not speaking for her and did not represent her positions. Furthermore, they had no inside knowledge of any private thoughts she may have, and they did not profess to be clairvoyant.

The innocent subjects of O’Keefe’s hoax were merely projecting their own opinions on Grimes and expressing their own desires for what they hoped she might do after being elected. It has no more credibility than the lunacy of Ben Carson surmising that President Obama is plotting to cancel the 2016 presidential elections. And the project is further discredited by the tactics used, wherein O’Keefe’s plants pretended to be anti-coal advocates to elicit accommodating agreement from their prey. O’Keefe’s operatives are not campaign “trackers” who objectively record speeches and other public events in order to hold candidates accountable. They are con artists and hustlers who aim to entrap their victims into saying something that can be twisted out of context in the editing room.

It is also notable that O’Keefe posts videos that are heavily edited. The viewer has no idea if the subject’s remarks were premised with a phrase that altered the meaning. For instance, someone might say “…Alison Grimes is anti-coal.” But if that sentence began with the words “Critics falsely believe that…” it has an entirely different meaning. That’s what dishonest editing can do. It can also remove comments that don’t fit the premise that a biased videographer is trying to push. So O’Keefe may have interviewed dozens of people who said only positive things about Grimes, but he left them on the cutting room floor and posted only the handful whose words he could exploit.

A response to this phony video has already been issued from the campaign of Grimes’ opponent, Sen. Mitch McConnell. Seizing on the opportunity to exacerbate the dishonesty, McConnell’s spokesperson said…

“It is absolutely shocking that Alison Lundergan Grimes‘ own staff now admits that she has no intention of protecting the coal industry. The level of deception that Alison Grimes and her campaign engages in to appear pro-coal despite obvious opposition is both disturbing and dangerous.”

What’s shocking is the level of deception of McConnell’s spokesperson who knows very well that none of these remarks came from Grimes’ staff and they do not represent her position. The spokesperson is flagrantly lying. In contrast to this intentionally deceptive hogwash, there was a prior incident in the Kentucky race that has real substance and was not manufactured. A telephone call between McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, and an associate was recorded and released to the press wherein he confessed that he wasn’t especially fond of McConnell, but had an ulterior motive for heading up his campaign:

“Between you and me, I’m sort of holdin’ my nose for two years because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand [Paul] in ’16.”

That was an unprovoked statement from one conservative operative to another. There was no deception involved in soliciting it. The motivation for making it public is unknown. Perhaps Benton’s pal was a supporter of Matt Bevin who, at the time, was running against McConnell in the Republican primary. But there is no similarity between this disclosure and what O’Keefe does. The speaker was not some tangentially related volunteer, he was McConnell’s campaign manager. And he wasn’t tricked by a scammer into revealing his opinion. To cap off this affair, Benton later resigned in disgrace from McConnell’s campaign after it was revealed that he played a role in a political bribery scandal in the 2012 GOP Iowa primary.

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For the record, here is a boilerplate background on James O’Keefe:
O’Keefe is best known for making an ass of himself on video while imagining an acclaim that is shared by no one outside of the Tea Party Home for the Chronically Delusional. Some of his other recent antics have resulted in his arrest and conviction in a Louisiana senator’s office, a legal order to pay a $100,000 settlement to a former ACORN employee he defamed, and a sleazy plot to seduce a CNN reporter aboard his “Love Boat.” More recently his “Cinema Veri-tasteless” earned him a rebuke from a team of Special Prosecutors in Texas (yes, Texas) who officially concluded that his video “was little more than a canard and political disinformation.” And he staged a remarkably juvenile stunt wherein he crossed the Rio Grande wearing an Osama Bin Laden mask.

Watch and laugh…..

BUSTED: Mitch McConnell Secretly Recorded At The Koch Brothers Donor Summit

Every year the Koch brothers hold one or more conclaves of their conservative millionaire and billionaire pals to discuss future strategies and collect donations for candidates and causes that will benefit their parochial interests. These affairs are put on under the tightest security so as to protect the elite attendees from being identified or from having to encounter the riff raff (i.e. ordinary American citizens) they hope to oppress.

Earlier this year, an event in the California beach resort at Dana Point, the Lear Jet Set gathered as usual, but they had a mole in their midst. A recording was just published by The Nation that includes some frank talk by participants including GOP senate candidates Tom Cotton (AR), Joni Ernst (IA), and Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell. McConnell kicked things off by expressing his gratitude to his wealthy benefactors, Charles and David Koch saying that…

“I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David for the important work you’re doing. I don’t know where we’d be without you.”

Mitch McConnell / Koch Brothers

McConnell’s smarmy sycophancy extended to some blatantly miscast interpretations of the onerous Citizen’s United decision by the Supreme Court. McConnell said…

“What did the case decide? Well as you all know, corporations that own a newspaper or a television station (inaudible), they’re free to say whatever they want to say about anybody at any time. But if you were a corporation that didn’t own a newspaper or didn’t own a television station, you couldn’t. So all Citizens United did was to level the playing field for corporate speech. In other words, no longer did corporations have to own a newspaper or a television station in order to say whatever they wanted. It simply leveled the playing field.”

That is a deliberate bastardization of the decision and McConnell, a lawyer by profession, knows it. Corporations have always been able to say whatever they wanted at any time. They have the money to run ads in those corporate newspapers and television networks. They can fund any number of public relations campaigns to disseminate whatever message they please. And they can hire lobbyists to promote their interests to politicians and the media. They have always had these avenues of communication.

What Citizen’s United gave them was a veil behind which they could covertly mold the political landscape to their liking. They can now contribute unlimited sums to Super PACS without disclosing where the money came from. It wasn’t speech they were angling for, it was anonymity. They needed to disguise their participation in campaigns because American’s know that these upper-crusters don’t have the people’s interests at heart.

It was that secrecy that Citizen’s United provided. It was never about “leveling the playing field.” The field was already slanted severely toward the rich, and this just made things worse. It made it more difficult than ever for the voices of average citizens to compete with the wealthy captains of industry who could shout everyone else down.

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With the publication of this recording we are afforded a view into the luxury suites of the plutocrats who seek to dominate our society. We have always known their self-serving intentions, but it is chilling to hear it from their own lips when they think no one is listening.

Not So Breitbart: McConnell Calls Tea Party Bullies Who Need A Punch In The Nose (Allegedly)

The intrepid team of weasels at Breitbart News have published an “exclusive” scoop that threatens to sink the political career of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell participated in a conference call with Karl Rove’s Crossroads PAC and a couple of dozen conservative donors wherein they discussed the political strategies for future electoral victories.

The article on Breitbart News was authored by Matthew Boyle, a notoriously dishonest reject from Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller. Amongst his previous work for Breitbart was an article that invented the existence of ObamaCars, free vehicles that would allegedly be given out to illegal immigrants. He should be writing for The Onion.

In Boyle’s latest piece of fiction he claims to have an anonymous source who was on the conference call with McConnell and Rove and had some juicy tidbits to expose. The opening paragraph of Boyle’s article declared that…

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on a conference call organized by Karl Rove’s Crossroads organization for large donors and their advisers on Oct. 30 that the Tea Party movement, in his view, is a ‘nothing but a bunch of bullies’ that he plans to ‘punch … in the nose'”

Oh my lord. Mitch McConnell is threatening to assault the noses of some Tea Party bullies. And it must be true because there isn’t any indication in that paragraph that the remarks were conveyed by an unknown third party with no proof.

McConnell has had prior run-ins with Tea Party noses. [Author’s Note: You cannot imagine the willpower it took to avoid saying that “Tea Party noses are running.”] A couple of months ago McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, who was hired specifically to appeal to Tea Party voters in Kentucky, was recorded telling a colleague about his reluctant association with McConnell. Benton said…

“Between you and me, I’m sort of holdin’ my nose for two years because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand [Paul] in ’16.”

Subsequent to that gaffe, the McConnell campaign released a lighthearted attempt at damage control showing McConnell standing next to Benton who was holding his nose. But now that we know how McConnell really feels about those Tea Party guys, perhaps Benton isn’t avoiding the stench. Maybe he just got slugged in the schnoz by the scrappy minority leader.

Mitch McConnell

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Ordinarily, embarrassing revelations about Republican politicians would be a welcome treat. And this one fits the bill because McConnell has previously expressed concerns about fringe candidates mounting primary challenges against sitting Republican senators and then losing winnable seats to Democrats. Boyle’s source told him that McConnell explicitly attacked the Tea Party and some of it’s rising stars like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.

Upon reading Boyle’s article, however, there were some gaping holes that a conscientious reader could not ignore. For instance, McConnell is a highly partisan, right-wing, attack machine, but he isn’t stupid. It seems highly implausible that he would make derogatory remarks amount a significant bloc of constituents during a telephone conference call on which he doesn’t know who might be listening. What’s more, by citing an anonymous source in this sort of political dust-up, Boyle prevents his readers from having any sense of who is making these charges. It might very well be a supporter of Matt Bevin, the Tea Party candidate who is challenging McConnell in his own Kentucky primary.

Boyle did include a response from a spokesman for Karl Rove who flatly denied the charge that McConnell had demeaned either the Tea Party or Cruz:

“Your source is ascribing things to the call that simply were never said […] nothing about the Tea Party or Sens. Cruz or Lee.”

That unambiguous denial didn’t stop Boyle from posting an article that maligned McConnell. As it turns out, there was good reason to be suspicious of Boyle’s exclusive. Washington Examiner reporter Charlie Spiering did what real reporters actually do. He contacted Rove’s people and arranged to hear a recording of the conference call. In his column he noted that…

“McConnell’s comments about dealing with “schoolyard bullies” by punching them in the nose, as reported by Breitbart News, were accurate but were explicitly directed at the Senate Conservatives Fund, not the Tea Party or a specific conservative senator.”

So it appears that Boyle’s source was something less than credible, which is something that wouldn’t much bother Breitbart or Boyle. It is no secret that the BreitBrats are openly hostile to establishment Republicans and that they frequently promote Tea Party challengers. It would be consistent with their agenda for a mysterious McConnell critic to surface and assign comments to him that would harm his reelection effort. And Boyle is just the guy to invent a controversy that would help a candidate running against McConnell. It wouldn’t be the first time that Boyle has come to the aid of McConnell’s opponent. He’s written at least six other articles for Breitbart that feature Bevin favorably and McConnell disparagingly.

Despite the Examiner’s debunking of Boyle’s source, there has been no retraction on the Breitbart website. That’s typical of their shoddy brand of dishonest journalism. Even so, it’s hard to know who to root for in this affair. McConnell the repugnant, Republican pugilist, or Boyle the disreputable, right-wing hack. I must admit, though, it’s a highly entertaining show.