So You Thought President Obama Would Be A Lame Duck, Did You?

Six weeks ago an election concluded that brought what every Republican, and many Democrats, thought was the deathblow for the Obama administration. There was no phrase that was uttered more often than “Lame Duck” as pundits rushed to write the epitaph of Obama’s presidency and agenda. They were convinced that the Obama era was dead and, with apologies to Monty Python, it had…

“…passed on. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet it’s maker. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life. It rests in peace. It’s pushing up the daisies. It’s metabolic processes are now history. It’s off the twig. It’s kicked the bucket. It’s shuffled off it’s mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible. This is an ex-presidency.”

Obama Lame Duck

Well, in the subsequent forty-two days the President has demonstrated a stubborn resistance to complying with the conventional wisdom. He has defied his critics’ forecasts of an untimely demise, as well as their conviction that he is incapable of leadership. Here is a brief summary of some of the achievements that have come to pass since November 5, 2014, beginning with an historic announcement today:

  • Normalizing relations with Cuba.
  • Deferring deportation for certain undocumented immigrants.
  • Passage of a spending bill that averts another government shutdown.
  • Confirmation of his Surgeon General nominee.
  • Confirmation of twenty-seven federal judges.
  • Climate agreement with China.
  • Protection for Bristol Bay, Alaska from future oil and gas drilling.

In addition to the above, Obama has also presided over record enrollments in the second year of ObamaCare, and the deflating of Russia’s economy. And all the while the U.S. economy is performing better than any other major nation, and most indicators are firmly in positive territory.

Of course, there is still much room for improvement, but that cannot be achieved without the cooperation of Congress. There is not likely to be much of that in the next couple of years, but Obama has proven that he is able to attend to the interests of the American people even when Congress refuses to do so. And the 2016 cycle is shaping up to heavily favor Democrats.

In fact, 2016 holds decidedly 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.

It will be interesting to see where we go from here as the new congressional session begins next month. What we already know is that with Republicans in charge the Congress has set a new record for laziness. It has spent more time on vacation than working (239 total vacation days in 2014). Plus, it was the least productive session in history. It took that trophy from the session just prior.

Much of the blame has to be laid at the feet of John Boehner, the Tea Party, and the GOP’s inability and genetic aversion to governing. But if anyone is still holding onto the belief that Obama has become an irredeemable lame duck, the evidence of the past six weeks ought to shake that conviction. It is clear that Obama has no intention of being hobbled by an antagonistic Congress that cares more about their own grasp on power than they do the welfare of the people they are supposed to representing.

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So How Nuts Are The Anti-Immigration Tea Party Republicans?

One month ago a distinct minority of the nation’s voters trudged to the polls to elect just enough Tea Party Republicans to gain control of the Senate and join their GOP colleagues in the House in a ritual of Obama bashing and avoiding doing any actual work. Since then the party of “NO” has already demonstrated their determination to hogtie this president and throw a monkey wrench into the administration of government.

GOP Disciplines Obama

To illustrate just how absurd the right-wing has become, take a look at these actual proposals, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, for responding to Obama’s executive action to reform immigration policy:

    Shut down the government. A tactic that failed miserably last year and made a laughing stock of Ted Cruz and other Republicans.
    Block ambassador nominations. Because degrading international diplomacy would secure America’s borders.
    Block executive branch nominees — just about all of them. Another attempt by the party that hates government to prove that it doesn’t work by sabotaging it.
    Ground the president. Seriously? They want to cut funding for Air Force One to keep Obama stuck in Washington.
    Start the immigration fight earlier. As opposed to starting to resolve the immigration problem.
    File a lawsuit. Which they have already done and will solve nothing. It probably won’t even get to trial before becoming moot.
    Cancel the State of the Union. This idiotic and bigoted idea was covered previously by News Corpse here: Hate of the Union.

These inane, retaliatory responses to a serious problem facing the nation reveal the deliberately injurious motives of the GOP. They obviously couldn’t care less about advancing the interests of the American people. The only thing on their agenda is beating on the current resident of the White House whom they never believed was legitimate.

And it makes it all the more ludicrous considering they have a quick and simple way to do away with the executive order they profess to oppose. As reported here before, 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 these cretins maneuver to lock Obama out of the Capital and take away his keys to Air Force One. Next thing you know they will be passing legislation to make him sit in the corner for the remainder of his term. And they want people to take them seriously?

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The Hate Of The Union Address: Right-Wing Nutjobs Want To Ban Obama From Congress

You may have thought that you’ve seen it all, but when it comes to overt expressions of rancid hatred today’s Republican politicians and pundits are just getting started. It’s apparently not enough that they have spent the last six years breaking all records for partisan obstructionism and openly displayed racist attitudes toward President Obama. Now there is talk of implementing a Jim Crow style admittance policy on Capitol Hill.

Obama Refused

President Obama has recently taken legal measures to make some progress on the immigration reforms that Congress is too inept to address. His executive actions are both constitutionally sound and overwhelmingly popular. Those facts must have driven the Republican Party into an acute psychosis that has them panting feverishly as they struggle to respond. To date they have proposed such over-the-top remedies as rejecting every administration nominee for cabinet or judgeship posts, shutting down the federal government, suing the President, and even launching impeachment proceedings.

Now, however, they have lit on a new tactic that is stretching the limits of sanity. There is boomlet of commentary on the right that thinks it would be a good idea to prohibit President Obama from delivering the annual State of the Union address to members of Congress. This is a proposal that reeks of personal animosity and is wholly inconsistent with the mission of Congress. What’s more, it certainly doesn’t advance the spirit of cooperation that the GOP pretended to embrace following the midterm election. The very words used by the advocates of this plan illustrate their divisive intent. For instance…

Joel Pollak, Breitbart News: Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his “executive amnesty” remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate.

Rich Lowry, National Review: If I were John Boehner I’d say to the president: “Send us your State of the Union in writing. You’re not welcome in our chamber.”

“Our chamber?” Are these miscreants suffering from the delusion that the houses of Congress belong to them and they have the tyrannical authority to deny admittance to anyone they choose, including the Commander in Chief? This would be an unprecedented rebuke aimed at the nation’s first African-American president. There is a stink of bigotry that is reminiscent of the segregationist South where blacks were not permitted into establishments reserved for whites only. These suggestions are shameless in their open disrespect for both the President and the presidency. No other White House occupant has suffered this sort of indignity. Even President Clinton’s State of the Union speeches went on as scheduled while Congress was trying at the time to impeach him.

Obama’s crime is that he is actually trying to get things done despite a congressional body that holds the title for being the least productive congress in history. They have demonstrated their obsession with opposing anything this President advocates, even legislation that their own GOP colleagues drafted. Once Obama signs on they turn and run, pretending not to have ever had anything to do with it. The most important thing to this Republican caucus is to do as much harm to the President as possible without consideration to the harm they are doing to the country.

But with all of the flagrantly hostile behavior directed at Obama from the right, there is something far more repugnant in this exclusionary gimmick that treats the President as if he were untouchable and unclean and unfit for keeping company with the oh-so-distinguished members of Congress.

Calmer heads may ultimately prevail in the weeks before the State of the Union. But if the GOP wants to proceed with this lunatic plan they do so at their own peril. It would surely be seen by the American people as vindictive and childish. It would be repudiated by a broad majority of clear thinking citizens. The Republican Party would bear the brunt of the backlash that would almost certainly ensue.

Consequently, I say “Go for it, Republicans.” Hang a big, bright “Whites Only” sign over the front door of the Congress. It will serve as a truth-in-advertising notice for the GOP. Then the President can move the speech to an auditorium where he invites all Americans (with the exception of Republican members of Congress) to hear his address. Let the media cover the speech without the predictable and orchestrated jeers and cheers that come from a legislative body that is bitterly divided by partisanship.

Come to think of it, having the State of the Union delivered outside of Congress may be such a good idea that Obama should consider taking the lead. He could preempt the GOP’s rebuke by rebuking them first with a notice that he will not be attending their soiree. There is nothing preventing a president from delivering the speech at a venue of his choosing. And if it results in a more respectful environment where he doesn’t have to deal with petulant hecklers shouting “You lie,” in the middle of his remarks, it may be worth it.

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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.

Republican Intelligence Committee Report Blows Up The Benghazi Hoax [Updated]

The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee responsible for investigating Benghazi released its final report in a pre-Thanksgiving Friday news dump. Their conclusions debunked nearly every right-wing, Fox News, conservative fruitcake, conspiracy theory that has been circling the wingnut drain for the past two years.

Benghazi

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The Associated Press is reporting that the Committee’s findings absolve the administration of any wrongdoing. That includes the grossly unfair attacks on then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice, the allegations that military rescue units were told to “stand down,” and numerous assaults on Hillary Clinton’s character and management of the State Department. The House Committee report’s conclusions affirm those of the Senate Intelligence Committee who issued their own report on Benghazi nearly a year ago. The AP said in part…

“In the aftermath of the attacks, Republicans criticized the Obama administration and its then-secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016. People in and out of government have alleged that a CIA response team was ordered to ‘stand down’ after the State Department compound came under attack, that a military rescue was nixed, that officials intentionally downplayed the role of al-Qaida figures in the attack, and that Stevens and the CIA were involved in a secret operation to spirit weapons out of Libya and into the hands of Syrian rebels. None of that is true, according to the House Intelligence Committee report.”

Some of the flaws in the follow-up to the attack were identified by the committee as being the result of mistakes by “intelligence analysts, not political appointees.” This absolves both the Obama administration and Clinton, who Republicans were hoping to smear with false allegations connected to the Benghazi affair.

One area that received criticism in the report regarded whether adequate security was in place at the time of the attack. The report concluded that the facility was not well protected. However, it did not go into the fact that it was a diplomatic outpost, not a military base. Generally diplomatic facilities are designed to be open to the public and welcoming of local residents. A militaristic presence would defeat the purpose of the diplomatic mission. Consequently, the fine line between security and accessibility is often difficult to define.

The question now is whether the new House Select Committee on the Politicization of Benghazi that GOP Speaker John Boehner impaneled will continue its work. In order to do so they would have to presume that their colleagues on the Intelligence Committee screwed up. That would make for an interesting fight between fellow GOP chairmen Mike Rogers and Trey Gowdy. However, the new Committee, that was formed last May, hasn’t done much work and has held only one meeting in the six months since its creation. If it were to dissolve tomorrow it’s probable that nobody would notice. So while failing to uncover anything untoward, the GOP has spent millions of dollars struggling to create a controversy, but succeeded only in proving that they are utterly inept.

It will also be interesting to see if Fox News even bothers to report the conclusions of the Intelligence Committee. Fox has spent innumerable hours flailing Obama, Clinton, Rice, and anyone else they thought they could impugn with slanderous allegations for two years now. They have attacked people as liars, incompetents, even traitors, and called for the impeachment of President Obama. Never mind that they never had any evidence of any wrongdoing.

And now their own GOP inquisitors have given the administration a complete vindication. Will Fox News do a special hour report on “Benghazi: The Exoneration of the White House?” Not that that would compensate for the Benghazi fixation that has consumed Fox for so long. In addition to their relentless blanketing of the airwaves with Benghazi porn as a matter of routine, they have produced several special reports on the subject with hyperbolic titles such as…

  • Fox News Reporting: 13 Hours at Benghazi.
  • Fox News Reporting: Benghazi: White House Cover-Up Revealed?
  • Special Report Investigates: Death and Deceit in Benghazi.
  • Fox News Reporting: Benghazi: The Truth Behind the Smokescreen.
  • Special Report Investigates: Benghazi – New Revelations.

And nothing has come of any of it. When does Fox News broadcast a retraction and an apology to those whose reputations they have tarnished? When do they admit that it was all a partisan scheme to demean Democrats and help Republicans? When do the begin to honor their slogan “fair and balanced” by giving their viewers a more complete picture of reality?

Don’t waste too much time pondering the answers to those questions. Fox will never exhibit the integrity required to be legitimate journalists. They were conceived as a right-wing propaganda operation and they will remain faithful to that nefarious mission. Even as facts emerge, like those from the House Intelligence Committee, that prove they are flagrantly partisan and dishonest.

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[Update:] Fox News posted an account of the House Intelligence Committees’s report on their website that was predictably biased. It failed to report any of the exonerating conclusions made by the GOP-led panel. Instead, it appeared under a misleading headline that read “CIA gathered intelligence on weapons to Syria: Benghazi report,” and focused on ancillary issues that were either not in contention or were the flawed product of intelligence analysts.

[Update: 11/22] Fox News finally mentioned the House Intel report on the air in a segment that lasted only 36 seconds and, true to form, they completely ignored the salient facts that exonerated the administration.

[Update: 11/23] On Fox’s MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz raised the question of whether the committee report received the amount of coverage that it warranted. He concluded that it did not.

“The House Intelligence Committee issued the results of a two year investigation of Benghazi and, among other things, the committee controlled by Republicans says that their was no intelligence failure. There was no stand-down order. There was no cover up by administration officials, or at least no intention to deceive. […] Given all the attention that Benghazi has gotten, including on this network, should that have gotten more coverage?

Also on the program was disgraced former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson who disagreed for some absurdly petty reasons.

“There were no answers, I think, to the great imponderables, which may be why it didn’t get more coverage. Like what was the President doing that night? Why can’t we see the White House photos. What happened to the surveillance video in Benghazi.”

First of all, all of those “imponderables” were previously pondered and answered. But more to the point, it is ridiculous to suggest that seeing photos from the White House, thousands of miles away from the scene, is more important than than correcting allegations of a cover up or debunking scurrilous conspiracy theories claiming that Americans were deliberately left behind to die. Attkisson, who wants to taken seriously as a journalist, is embarrassing herself again with a fixation on tabloid irrelevancies.

The Right-Wing Freakout Over An ObamaCare Advisor Is Just More Bullspit

The biggest news for the past few days in the conservative media noise machine has been the remarks of Jonathan Gruber, an M.I.T. economics professor who consulted on the drafting of the Affordable Care Act. Some enterprising wingnut found an old video where Gruber was caught making some extemporaneous, impolitic comments about the passage of the legislation. What he said was that…

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. So it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, in a law that said healthy people are gonna pay in – if it made explicit that healthy people are gonna pay in, sick people get money – it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get anything to pass.”

There is no question that such language is damning and an irresistible lure for Republicans salivating at any opportunity to discredit the program and its authors. The problem with the subsequent and expected outcry by the right is that they have entirely misrepresented both the facts and Gruber’s role.

obamacare-conservatives-lie

Contrary to the incessant mantra, Gruber was not the “architect” of ObamaCare. He was one of many consultants to the White House and he served in the same position when Mitt Romney implemented an almost identical bill in Massachusetts. And while his words were poorly chosen, his meaning was not particularly controversial. He was merely pointing out the difficulty of persuading people who often have conflicting interests in enhanced services but an aversion to collecting the revenue necessary to pay for them.

As a result, politicians on both sides dance around the issue of taxes and benefits in order to make successful arguments. And yes, they sometimes are less than completely truthful. And yes, there are Americans who cannot process the complexities of large-scale economic programs and tax policy. So people like Gruber get frustrated by the mindset that demands cheap health insurance, but refuses to consider methods of paying for it. Then he makes ill-considered comments in a public forum stemming from that frustration that give his ideological opponents ammunition to use against him and the policy.

However, when you hear conservatives whine about President Obama or Democrats being untruthful, it is necessary to put their complaints into perspective. For most of the debate surrounding health care, the right has been brazenly dishonest. And their falsehoods were not merely verbal gaffes or misinterpretations. They were outright lies made up from thin air. When scored by PolitiFact there were at least twelve instances where conservatives received “Pants-On-Fire” designations for their patently absurd contentions, as illustrated in this handy infographic.

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Fox News

Anyone with a on open mind who researches these blatant distortions of reality will surely recognize that Gruber’s offense is far less significant than those of the right-wing Fib Factory. Particularly when you factor in that Gruber is not a spokesman for the administration or for Democrats in Congress. However, the lies by opponents of ObamaCare often came from the Republican leaders and banner carriers for their cause. That includes Fox News who is currently burning up their airwaves with condemnations of Gruber and, by extension, ObamaCare. On the Fox News community website, Fox Nation, they posted fourteen articles in one day on this subject.

Fox Nation Obsession

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It is clear that Fox has an activist agenda that is closely aligned with that of the Republican Party. And it is equally clear that they would rather flood the zone with trivialities than to engage in an honest debate about real issues. They are afraid to address the harsh realities that people face when denied access to quality, affordable health care. They would never acknowledge the people who have found renewed hope for themselves and their families since ObamaCare launched. Take for instance this example of a skeptical Republican whose mind was changed when he eventually looked at the facts. It’s just one example of untold thousands that proves that proves that there are things worse than calling people stupid. And that’s treating them that way.

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.

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Obama Bitching: The GOP’s Empty Mandate Of 2014

Tomorrow the midterm election will finally be over (except for Georgia and Louisiana) and most of the so-called liberal media is predicting that it will be a Republican day with their party taking over control of the Senate.

That outcome is by no means certain. Democrats are said to command a superior ground game to get out the vote and all they need to do is hold the line in a couple of key battleground states to deny Republicans their victory. If Democrats manage to do that it will shock the blathering media drones and put a damper on the GOP’s funeral party.

But what if the Republicans pull it off? What if they get their Senate majority and Mitch McConnell becomes majority leader and every committee chair is handed off to a Republican who hates government? Based on the campaigning of the last few months, what mandate could the Republican Party claim for the two years until the next election (where they will probably be thrown out again)?

Well, if you take the words of the Republicans themselves, the only issue that they put forward for 2014 is that President Obama sucks. They abandoned every salient issue from immigration to taxes to abortion to deficits to terrorism, etc. The only matter that Republican candidates raised with any regularity was that their Democratic opponent was in the same party as the President and supported his policies. They rarely mentioned what those policies were, just implied that they were bad. The typical arguments for Republicans were merely arguments against Obama. For instance…

Sen. Rand Paul: This election will be a referendum on the president.

Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly: This isn’t a pro-GOP election, it’s an anti-Obama election.

Sen. John Cornyn: It’s not as though people have all of a sudden fallen in love with Republicans. It’s just a loss of confidence in the administration.

Indeed, people have not fallen in love with Republicans. In fact, Obama’s approval rating in the low forties is four times what congress can muster. And he remains more popular than the GOP, the Tea Party, and the media that is belittling him. But since Republicans have no issues they can affirmatively advance, they have adopted a national platform of bitching about Obama.

Obama/Congress Approval

Republicans once promised to make ObamaCare the keystone of their campaign, but that fell off their list after millions of Americans signed up and the nation didn’t collapse into a communist dictatorship. RNC chair Reince Priebus was so hopped up on an anti-ObamaCare high that he said…

“I think it’s going to be Obamacare all the time between now and November 5. If you ask me what day it is, I’m going to tell you it’s Obamacare. If you want to know what I want in my coffee, I’m going to tell you Obamacare. I’m going to talk about Obamacare all the time because I think it’s the No. 1 issue.”

He has barely mentioned it since. In the final weeks of the campaign the media has been helping the GOP to distract the public from substantive issues by stirring up panic over phony crises like ISIL and Ebola. However, neither of those qualify as planks in a political platform. And even if they did, the GOP hasn’t taken a consistent position on them other than demanding that America oppose the Ebola-infected terrorist children who are streaming across the border with cocaine and condoms.

Consequently, should the GOP win a majority in the Senate they won’t have a mandate for any legislative agenda at all. They failed to convince voters that any of their policies were superior because they hardly mentioned any of their policies. The only thing they ran on was Obama-hate, and the only reason for a victory, if there is one, is that Democrats tend to sit out midterm elections.

When your own candidates are admitting that the election is a referendum on a President who is leaving office in two years, you have no authority to set an agenda. And since that has been the operating philosophy of the GOP for the past six years, don’t expect anything to change should a Republican Senate come out of the election tomorrow.

Republicans despise government and insist that it doesn’t work. Then, when they come to power, they do everything they can to prove it. That’s why the last GOP administration left the country crippled and despairing. If you don’t want to see that again, be sure to get off your asses and vote tomorrow. Whatever problems you may have with Obama or Democrats, they are minor when compared to the damage the GOP could do with their nutcases chairing committees like Jim Inhofe who believes that Climate Change is a hoax and is in line to head the Committee on the Environment.

Rand Paul States The Obvious: The Republican Party Brand Sucks

Every now and then a politician will surprise people by saying something that is manifestly true. However, they often only resort to that strategy when it is also unarguably obvious or they have an absurd explanation for why the truth is what it is.

Sen. Rand Paul (KY-Tea Party) made just such a pronouncement yesterday while on the campaign trail for his Kentucky colleague, Mitch McConnell. The glaringly evident observation that Paul issued was that “The Republican Party brand sucks.”

Rand Paul

No, really? Who knew? Well, pretty much everybody except for GOP chair Reince Priebus and most of the cult-bound viewers of Fox News. Notwithstanding all of the media pouncing on President Obama’s low approval rating in recent polls, his 41% looks awfully good compared to the GOP’s ranking down in the low teens. So it’s understandable that Paul would seek to provide a tortured interpretation of reality to explain the public’s distaste for his party. And apparently it’s all the fault of colored folk.

Paul: For 80 years African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans. Why? Because of a perception. The problem is the perception that no one in the Republican Party cares.

Indeed there is a perception among African-Americans (and Latinos, and women, and gays, and youth, and seniors, and workers, and the poor) that Republicans don’t care about them. But it is a perception based on political reality. The GOP’s policies have been aimed straight at the heart of Americans who are not wealthy or otherwise privileged. When Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage, and cutting social security, and advocating tax reform that puts more money in the pockets of the rich while incentivizing corporations to send American jobs overseas, there will be a perception resulting from such deliberately harmful legislative practices.

What’s more, if African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans for 80 years, it may have something to do with the fact that throughout all of that time the Republicans have tried to suppress them by opposing the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and other measures aimed at insuring a more equal society. Even today the GOP has been fiercely fighting to impose obstacles to voting for minorities and other citizens they fear will vote against the GOP. Why on Earth would any of these disenfranchised Americans have a positive perception of Republicans?

Paul, it should be noted, is specifically among those who have advocated for policies harmful to African Americans. In an epic debate with Rachel Maddow he argued his position against parts of the Civil Rights Act, although he later denied he ever took such a position. This disparity is certain to come up again should Paul enter the primary for the GOP nomination for president in 2016, as many expect that he will.

So it is small wonder that the Republican Party brand sucks. It is more surprising that anyone might still hold it in high regard. But for Paul to carry this message as if he were positioned to fix the branding is ludicrous. And the notion that the GOP’s problems are merely related to perceptions, rather than substantive differences with their historical and current platform, is really just another example of why the party is so out of touch.

Rachel Maddow Deliciously Unravels The Fox News “Voter Fraud Frankenstein” Fallacy

Last Tuesday Megyn Kelly of Fox News hosted a segment on what she characterized as a frightening assault on democracy in Colorado as Democrats plotted to surreptitiously turn the “red meat state” blue. Setting aside the fact that Colorado has been a solid purple state for years, Kelly’s alarm was grossly misplaced and indicative of her extreme right-wing bias. She led off with a dire message for her easily spooked audience.

“Breaking tonight. With two weeks to the midterms we are getting warnings that a new law has opened the door to possible voter fraud in a critical senate race that could decide the balance of power in Congress.”

Fox News Voter Fraud

Saints preserve us. What malevolent disaster is looming over us now? Kelly “reported” that Colorado’s Democratic governor and legislature passed a new “first of its kind” law that “literally allows residents to print ballots from their home computers.” And with a chastening glare she facetiously asks “What could go wrong?”

What indeed? Well, the first thing that could go wrong is that Kelly’s reporting is entirely false. When local reporters with KUSA TV contacted Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State he told them that there was no truth to the story. Rachel Maddow covered the misleading reporting by Kelly in a brilliant segment that broke down the shameless dishonesty that is the hallmark of Fox News:

Kelly has still failed to acknowledge or correct her false reporting, proving that the only fraud here is that committed by Fox News on their pathetically gullible viewers. But the story doesn’t end there.

Following Kelly’s thoroughly fictional “breaking” news opening, she introduced her guests Michelle Malkin and David Bossie who were there to promote their new crocumentary “Rocky Mountain Heist,” about alleged voter fraud in Colorado. But before the interview began, Kelly played the entire two minute trailer for the film uninterrupted, giving the deceitful project free advertising worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Malkin said the film unveils a “voter fraud Frankenstein,” but like every other right-wing allegation of voter fraud, she never provides any evidence. And in this case she doesn’t even offer an example of any the fraudulent activity she alleges.

Most appalling is Malkin’s apoplectic complaint that “hundreds of thousands of dollars from unknown donors were poured into these races to target them and turn the legislature blue.” And she has the gall to whine about this supposed assault on democracy while sharing the interview with the man that made unscrupulous political donations possible on an unprecedented scale. David Bossie is the President and Chairman of Citizens United, the organization whose Supreme Court ruling permitted donations from corporations and individuals in unlimited amounts that can be kept hidden from the public.

Bossie also told Kelly that he has no problem with the spending on the part of the Democrats, but complained of a lack of transparency. Talk about hypocrisy. It was his lawsuit that made it all possible and he argued in favor of it when it was to his benefit.

For more examples of shameless dishonesty from Fox…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

So in this one segment of Kelly’s program she proliferated lies about the Colorado elections procedures, contributed valuable airtime to advertise a brazenly partisan documentary, and gave a platform to hypocritical right-wing propagandists to smear their Democratic foes just days before a consequential election. She provided no opportunity for the maligned Democrats to respond or for a representative of the other side to rebut the scurrilous charges. But that is typical of the absurdly tagged “fair and balanced” network that is neither. And it is the reason that Kelly is no better than Sean Hannity, or Glenn Beck, or any of the other ideologically prejudiced Fox mouthpieces past and present.