Stupid GOP Tricks: Slash The IRS Budget As Revenge For Phony Tea Party Scandal

Anyone looking for idiotic ideas from the Tea Party Republican Congress wouldn’t have far to travel before stumbling over a mountain of them. Some of the more obvious examples include denying reproductive health care, cutting taxes for the rich, suppressing the vote, shutting down the government, and promoting creationism. But wait, there’s more.

Ayn Rand Wet Dream Act

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Since the do-nothing GOP-run House isn’t doing anything else, they have had plenty of time to come up with ever more asinine initiatives in a committed effort to advance the cause of stupidity. The latest step forward in that regard is their bill to cut the budget of the IRS by 25 percent:

“The GOP-controlled House has voted to slash the budget for the Internal Revenue Service’s tax enforcement division by $1.2 billion, a 25 percent cut that would mean fewer audits of taxpayers and make it more likely that people who cheat on their taxes will get away with it.”

Brilliant! This is a win-win for Tea-publicans who hate government in general and the IRS in particular. This bill would make it harder for the IRS to carry out its responsibility for collecting revenue that the nation needs in order to function. Thus, it would open up the agency to criticism for inefficiency that was created by this budget cut. It would also create inefficiencies in every other branch of government that is starved for revenue by the reduced tax receipts which, in turn, would make them subject to criticism. It would increase the federal deficit by leaving untold billions of legitimately owed taxes uncollected. This, of course, would incite additional fury by the pseudo-deficit hawks of the GOP who would ignore the fact that they created this problem in the first place.

At the same time, a crippled IRS would be unable to audit the corporations and millionaires who routinely practice – shall we say “creative” accounting. Consequently, these folks, who are the benefactors of the Republican Party, would have free rein to rob the American people of billions of dollars necessary to run critical federal programs including Social Security, the military, public safety (food, water, consumer products, etc.), transportation and infrastructure, medical research, criminal prosecution and prevention, and so much more.

The severity of these cuts will disrupt detection and prevention of criminal activity such as fraud and identity theft, leaving average Americans more vulnerable to victimization. They would also hamper the agency’s ability to provide service to every taxpayer seeking assistance with common filing questions.

So these cuts would have the triple purpose of weakening vital services upon which every American relies, granting amnesty to tax cheats everywhere, and artificially creating excuses to lash out at Big Government. They should call it the Ayn Rand Wet Dream Enhancement Act of 2014.

For the record, these Wet Dreamers are proposing cuts that have a demonstrably negative impact on the nation’s finances. And they come on top of previous cuts that have already impeded the IRS from performing its duties. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in a detailed and enlightening analysis

“[P]olicymakers should not ignore the damaging effects of the significant cuts that have occurred in IRS funding, which remains well below its 2010 level even before adjusting for inflation. The cuts have led the IRS to reduce its workforce, severely scale back employee training, and delay much-needed upgrades to information technology systems. These steps, in turn, have weakened the IRS’s ability to enforce the nation’s tax laws and serve taxpayers efficiently”

Even worse is the impact on the federal deficit caused by an understaffed, underfunded IRS. The CBPP report also reveals that…

“…from a fiscal perspective, starving the IRS makes no sense, as the return on the investment is high. Each additional $1 spent on IRS enforcement yields $6 of additional revenue from collecting taxes owed.”

Where else in the federal government can the allocation of funds generate that kind of return on investment? It is an act of profound folly to kill such a productive and beneficial pathway to economic sustainability that doesn’t rely on new taxes or program cuts. So what would inspire House Republicans to behave so foolishly?

“The cuts reflect GOP outrage over the agency’s scrutiny of tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status and frustration over the agency’s failure to produce thousands of emails by Lois Lerner, the official formerly in charge of the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status.”

That’s right. A trumped up scandal that has elicited nothing but partisan animus and lie-riddled accusations is the impetus for choking off funds that would protect and benefit every citizen. It is the height of petty politicking that comes at the expense of the nation’s economic viability. It is transparent pandering to wealthy special interests.

In the end, it is law abiding Americans who will have to shoulder the burden for these deadbeats. So the question is: Are the GOP really stupid, or they shrewdly executing their mission to starve the government, crush the middle-class, and enrich their benefactors?

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A Dose Of Reality: Children In Texas Are Less Likely To Be Immunized Than Immigrant Kids

The saga of minors from south of the border migrating to the United States in large numbers to escape poverty and violence in their home countries is one of the most heartbreaking stories to emerge in years. These children are often alone and frightened and disoriented in their new surroundings.

Inflaming the tragedy further is the response from soulless right-wing hate squads that have protested these kids as they arrive at detention facilities for processing. Among the dehumanizing taunts that are cast at these innocents by protesters, as well as Fox News anchors and guests, is that the kids are dangerous agents of drug traffickers, terrorists, and gangs. They are described in terms that deprive them of their humanity, like invaders and tsunamis. This allows the haters to ignore that they are just children and transform them into forces of nature that bring nothing chaos and destruction.

Immigrant Kids

One of the most scurrilous accusations being hurled around is that the immigrant children are menacing disease carriers who will infect our precious homegrown little ones and poison the purity of our Euro-American gene pool. They are threatening an epidemic of infectious maladies long thought to have been eradicated in civilized society. However, an article in the Texas Observer addresses this subject with the sort of facts and informed research from which conservatives recoil as if from the plague (irony intended).

The principle discovery in the Observer reveals that the occurrence of illness in the immigrant children is “wildly overstated.” In fact, if one were inclined to be nervous about the infectious status of a child, they would be better off shunning Perry’s Kids – aka the unvaccinated children suffering under the current GOP regime in Texas.

“Before demonizing undocumented children, we should look at the facts: The vast majority of Central Americans are vaccinated against all these [mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria] diseases. Governments concerned about health, and good parents investing in their kids, have made Central American kids better-vaccinated than Texan kids. We fear them not because they are actually sick, but because of powerful anti-immigration narratives that link foreigners to disease.”

The article goes on to note that many Central American governments cover the cost of vaccinations at 100%. Compare that to the U.S. where there are many states, including Texas, where routine health care is unavailable due to the political piggishness of Tea Party Republicans. The article states that “one in six kids in Texas is uninsured, and even insured families often must pay for vaccination.” By refusing to expand Medicaid programs, GOP governors like Rick Perry are tangibly lowering the quality and availability of health care and putting lives at risk. There’s your real death panel.

In addition, the tin-foil hatted movement to persuade people that immunizations are actually government sponsored plots to enrich pharmaceutical companies by mandating vaccinations that will cause autism or other debilitating illnesses, has found fertile ground in places like Texas. Consequently, many deluded parents deliberately refuse to have their kids vaccinated. This is making more of a health crisis in the state than anything that might be attributed to immigrants.

The Observer article is goes into much greater detail and is well worth reading in full. It includes examples of media disinformation about both disease and immigrants (particularly exposing the lies broadcast on Fox News). It explores the historical attacks on immigrants as disease-carriers going back 200 years, when the targets of the allegations were often the Irish or Jews.

This story raises questions about the effectiveness and integrity of the media. While the Texas Observer deserves credit for doing their job, the rest of the mainstream press has been shamefully delinquent. They haven’t bothered to do the research necessary to serve their audience by keeping them informed. But they have pumped up the tabloid exploitation of phony protesters and pundits with obvious political biases. It will be interesting to see if the Observer’s article gets any national attention.

In the end, it is clear that what is motivating the falsehoods about immigrant children is nothing more than pure racism, fear, ignorance, partisanship, and even greed. This is a humanitarian crisis, not an immigration debate. If Teabagging bigots want to push their fixation with border fences and nativist outrage, let them do it after these kids are taken care of and the imminent risks to their well-being are settled.

The ObamaCare Success Story: Even Republican Enrollees Are Overwhelmingly Satisfied (InfoGraphic)

It has been four months since the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) closed, and the most reliable numbers to date are being released. A new survey by The Commonwealth Fund (pdf) reveals that the program has surpassed all estimates of success and is broadly viewed favorably by the American people. Here are some of the highlights of the survey (InfoGraphic below):

  • With 9.5 million fewer uninsured adults, the uninsured rate for those 19-64 decline from 20% to 15%.
  • The uninsured rate for young adults 19 to 34 declined from 28% to 18%, more than any other age group.
  • In the 25 states (and D.C.) that expanded their Medicaid programs, the uninsured rate for low-income adults declined from 28% to 17% (Texas and Florida – neither of which expanded Medicaid – have the highest uninsured rates).
  • More than half of adults with new coverage said their plan included all or some of the doctors they wanted.
  • More than three of five adults who selected a private plan or enrolled in medicaid were uninsured prior to gaining coverage.
  • Two-thirds of those who found a primary care doctor got an appointment within two weeks.
  • More than three-quarters of adults with new coverage said they were very or somewhat satisfied with it (Including 74% of Republicans, 82% of Independents, and 84% of Democrats.

The fact that so many Americans have benefited from this health insurance initiative is in itself good news. But what should make this front page news is that Republicans enrolled in ObamaCare are just as happy with it as independents and Democrats. This illustrates how far afield the Tea Party Republican political miscreants in Washington have strayed from their own alleged constituents. They are impostors holding the reins of power thanks to a minority of extremists in the party who bother to vote. And if rank and file Republicans ever get motivated to show up at the polls, people like Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann will be lucky to get speaking engagements at trailer-park bible study meetings.

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After enduring the GOP spending four years throwing every mud-soaked brick they could find at ObamaCare, the people have risen above the scare tactics and lies. They rejected the talk of death panels and socialism and economic catastrophe. They saw through the dozens of attempts to repeal the law or challenge it in the courts. And now that they have had a chance to assess it personally, they find that it satisfactorily meets their needs, particularly those who couldn’t get coverage before due to preexisting conditions or financial hardship.

Don’t expect any of this to be reported on Fox News or by any other right-wing media garbage spewer. These are credible results from a respected foundation. They deal with facts and a devotion to representing reality (which, as we know, has a well-known liberal bias). Those are principles that conservative media tries desperately to avoid. If information cannot be used by the right to tarnish the President or progressive causes, it is either ignored or disparaged.

But despite the herculean effort put forth by Fox News, the Koch brothers, and the GOP establishment, the people have made up their own minds. Now if we can just get them to show up at the polls in November and vote for their own best interests, we may be able to roll back the tide of Dark Agist theocons who have infiltrated the halls of our democracy.

ObamaCare Success

Impeachment Fever: America Rejected Sarah Palin, Now She Rejects America

The “Quitta From Wasilla” is making headlines again by displaying symptoms of acute Obama Derangement Syndrome. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP nominee for Vice-President, who was soundly rejected by American voters, is now calling for the impeachment of President Obama (again), who was elected twice with significant majorities.

Sarah Palin

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Palin’s panicky challenge to the Psycho Chicken Littles she commands from the parapets of her Facebook page cites the standard menu of wingnut atrocities that Tea Party dimwits cling to so fiercely (i.e. fundamental transformation, American exceptionalism, etc.). What her unhinged freak-out failed to provide were any actual legal justifications for impeachment. You know…high crimes, misdemeanors, jaywalking, anything remotely deserving of removal from office. With a completely empty basket of goodies, Palin launched her tirade saying that …

“Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president. His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas.’”

That’s a nice touch. In that one opening sentence Palin likened President Obama to a wife beater with America as his victim; she pandered to the Latino immigrants she so often disparages by demonstrating her trifling command of the Spanish language, which she and her disciples insist must never be spoken within U.S. borders; and she lied about the President’s record on immigration, which has reduced unlawful entries and increased deportations.

From there Palin portrays the perilous journey of immigrants as a leisure trip wherein the brown hordes will “kick off their shoes and come on in.” It’s just like a big pool party in her view. But even worse, she completely fails to grasp the needs and desires of the American people by misrepresenting their priorities and the consequent duties of the President.

“There is no end in sight as our president prioritizes parties over doing the job he was hired by voters to do. Securing our borders is obviously fundamental here [...] communities become unrecognizable and bankrupted due to Obama’s flood of illegal immigration.”

There is a bountiful cache of supid in that paragraph. First of all, what she calls “Obama’s flood of illegal immigration” was put in motion by George W. Bush’s signature on an anti-child trafficking bill in 2008, that requires the government to provide minor immigrants with legal representation and safe and secure housing while awaiting resolution of their status. And Palin did not, and can not, cite an example of a community that is unrecognizable, save for the one she can see from her house in Alaska.

More to the point, Palin’s assertion that immigration is job one for the President ignores the fact that most polls on the priorities of the American people actually put jobs as job one (20%). Immigration, while a serious matter that needs to be addressed, is not particularly high on the list of things Americans want their government to work on. In fact it is often near the bottom of that list (3%).

It is pathetic that people like Palin are making monsters out of children who find themselves in an untenable position. They are alone and frightened by the prospect of being returned to countries where they live in danger and poverty. And now they are further terrorized by insensitive Americans who scream at them and threaten them and put up barricades to prevent them from reaching safe harbor. It’s atrocious behavior that is embarrassing to the majority of Americans who reject such hatefulness.

Immigrant Kids

Palin concludes her rant with a generalized lashing out that offers no substance or reason – just hostility and spittle-inflected animus toward the man that America elected twice and summarily threw her in the political gutter.

“It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment. The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.”

Palin, like many of her comrades on the irrational right, have no idea what impeachment means or how it is invoked. She failed to provide even a single example of a valid impeachable offense, even though she says that there are many of them. And her hysterical overreach is in harmony with the conservative pseudo-patriots who are salivating at the prospect of winning a majority in the Senate this November so they can pursue their anti-democratic agenda and oust the man that they pledged, from the moment he was inaugurated, to destroy.

For this reason it is imperative that Democrats break out of their traditional mid-term complacency and actually get out and vote this year. If they don’t, they can expect with near certainty that Republicans will try to impeachment Obama. And with that will come all the attendant political soap operas and antagonisms that the nation really doesn’t need as there are numerous other issues to address without having to poison the atmosphere with a politically driven show trial. If after all this Democrats don’t vote in record numbers, they will wake up the day after the election with two year long migraine.

Sunday Morning Republicans Gone Wild: Boehner, Issa, Krauthammer, And Gohmert

This week has been a festival of Republican derangement on a scale that is impressive for its magnitude and breadth. A party that is notorious for inane policies and political stunts has really knuckled down and exceeded its previous masterworks of idiocy. And it starts at the top with GOP House Speaker John Boehner.

Obama Mic Drop

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This week John Boehner leaped to the front of the pack by announcing the Tea Party’s wet dream of a lawsuit against President Obama for abuse of power and political overreach. However, when asked precisely what actions by the President were going to be the basis for the litigation, Boehner responded “When I make that decision, I’ll let you know.”

Brilliant! Boehner has invented the “Mad-Libs” lawsuit. Just fill in the blanks as you go along. For instance: Whereas the President has violated the ________ Act by issuing an order to _________ citizens, he is guilty of _________ing the _________. Case closed.

Next up we have Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Phony Scandals Committee. This week he appeared on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program to discuss the IRS and said of Lois Lerner, without qualification, that “Of course she broke laws and of course she broke regulations and we need to hold her accountable.”

That is a remarkably irresponsible position to take for someone who is ostensibly undertaking an investigation with the pretense of relying solely on the facts. But when Issa was challenged Sunday by CNN’s Candy Crowley as to whether he had any proof of wrongdoing by Lerner, the IRS, or the White House, Darrell Issa said “I don’t play the game of ‘no evidence.’” Just let that one sink in for a while.

Enter Fox News super-pundit Charles Krauthammer. Old Chuckie Sleaze visited with his Fox colleague Greta Van Susteren this week to pontificate over the Supreme Court decision on presidential recess appointments. Krauthammer opined that the court’s rebuke was proof that Obama is a lawless tyrant who rules by fiat. And then he introduced the “I” word saying that “If this were a Republican president, he’d be impeached now over all of these abuses.”

The problem with Krauthammer’s analysis is that Republican presidents have been far more generous with their recess appointments than Obama. Since 1981, Ronald Reagan led the field with 232. He was followed by Bush, Jr (171), Clinton (139), Bush, Sr. (78), and then Obama trailing with a mere 32 recess appointments. So Krauthammer’s speculation about what would happen to a Republican couldn’t be more wrong.

And saving the best for last, GOP Reps. Bill Flores and Louis Gohmert (aka Flo-Mert) have drafted legislation that would pay a million dollars to anyone who can provide the emails that were allegedly lost by Lois Lerner. Setting aside the fact that there may not be any lost emails at all because they may have been retrieved from servers or files residing with the recipients, Flo-Mert’s bill is epically idiotic.

First of all, they are essentially outsourcing their duties to unknown persons who they are enticing, via greed, to produce evidence of crime. That can result in unscrupulous individuals manufacturing evidence or breaking the law to acquire it. Secondly, they are proposing to spend taxpayer money on a purely partisan activity. Thirdly, they are conceding that they are too incompetent to do their own jobs. Fourthly, they are implying that there is a conspiracy to conceal the emails that can only be broken by cold, hard cash. And lastly, they included a provision in the bill to cut the salaries of all IRS employees by 20% until the possibly non-existent emails are turned over to Congress. That would punish people who have nothing to do with the matter, not to mention everyone in perpetuity if, in fact, there are no lost emails to recover.

This brief collection of Republican stupidity demonstrates how seriously devolved the GOP (Greedy One Percent) have become. They appear to have entirely stopped trying to be a reputable political enterprise and are competing to see who can be the imbecile of the week (although it will be hard to beat the inimitable Fox News “Psycho” analyst, Keith Ablow). But stay tuned as the contest continues and new aspirants arise to challenge the old hands. This is entertainment at its best.

Crybaby McDaniel Caught Lying About Black Votes

Last week’s Republican primary in Mississippi has stirred a frenzied response from Tea Party wackos who are convinced that the nomination was stolen by brigades of law-breaking African-Americans (is there any other kind to the right?). Loser Chris McDaniel has still refused to concede the race to incumbent Thad Cochran.

cochran-mcdaniel-2

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McDaniel appeared on Fox News last night with ardent support Sean Hannity. He told Hannity of his suspicions of massive electoral foul play, although he offered no evidence. McDaniel said that…

“We’re looking into the issue of whether or not people who participated in the June the 3rd Democratic primary crossed over into the Republican primary this Tuesday night. And we’ve already found more than a thousand examples of that in one county alone.”

This morning Pete Perry, the Republican Party Chairman of Hinds County, to which McDaniel was referring, issued a statement refuting the unfounded charges. In the statement Perry included an example of just how far removed McDaniel is from reality.

“As a committee, we are still in the process of going through the election results before they can be certified, but this morning we can discuss some of the specific examples that were raised yesterday.

“As an example in Precinct 14, the Fondren Presbyterian Church precinct, the numbers cited by the McDaniel campaign yesterday included 192 ‘illegal votes’ – people that they claimed had voted in the Democrat primary on June 3rd but then voted in the Republican run-off. That is impossible. According to the certified results of the June 3rd Democrat primary, there were only 37 total Democrat primary voters at that particular precinct.”

So McDaniel claimed that there were 192 illegal Democratic votes in a precinct that had only 37 Democratic votes total. That’s a pretty good indication that McDaniel’s complaints are pile of certified rubbish. He is just an egomaniacal sore loser who is certain that a secret cabal of Republicans and Democrats are conspiring against his holy Teabagger crusade. When all that actually happened is that voters acted lawfully to choose a candidate that is not McDaniel, and Cochran was smart enough to employ all legal measures to achieve his victory.

Oddly enough, I agree with McDaniel’s opposition to Democrats selecting Republican candidates, and vice versa. This is only possible due to the enactment of open primaries where people from any party are permitted to vote regardless of their registration. This was never a good idea because political party candidates should only be selected by members of their own parties. Why on earth should a Democrat get to choose who the GOP puts up for office? However, the open primary movement was a creation of right-wingers who saw it as a method of unseating entrenched Democratic incumbents. For instance, in California in 2010, open primaries were enacted via an initiative that was put on the ballot by a Republican state senator and supported by GOP governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now that this hare-brained concept has come back to bite them in the ass, the Tea Party is furious at what a perversion of democracy their idea actually is. So what do they do in response? Do they retract their support for open primaries and commence a campaign to end them? Of course not. They claim that black criminals have perverted the electoral process and steps must be taken to invalidate their votes. That should help the GOP’s outreach to minority constituents as much as flying a Confederate flag at their campaign rallies will.

The upside of this affair is that the Democratic senate candidate in Mississippi, Travis Childers, just saw his chances of winning in a deep red state increase substantially. McDaniel’s delusional supporters are so upset at Cochran that many of them are already declaring that they will not vote for him in November. Some are even talking about a write-in candidacy for McDaniel, or launching a third Party campaign, which Sarah Palin has been hinting at. When this is all over, the Democrats may have to send McDaniel a thank you card.

GOP vs. Tea: Snookered By Neocon Zealots On Talk Radio, Fox News, And Elsewhere

The primary race for the Republican senate nomination in Mississippi has taken some sharp turns on the road to Crazy Town. This is a race that has seen a blogger associated with one candidate, Chris McDaniel, sneak into a nursing home to surreptitiously take photos of the ailing wife of his opponent, Thad Cochran. Some other McDaniel operatives managed to get themselves locked inside a courtroom on election night with that precinct’s ballots. As for Cochran, he told an amused audience that he grew up in Mississippi having fun doing “all kinds of indecent things with animals.”

Republican Tea Party

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So who would have thought that on the eve of the election runoff, one of the most coherent analyses of modern politics would emerge from the daughter of one these candidates? Kate Cochran posted her impressions of the race on her Facebook page a couple of days ago, and if more Republicans had the insight that she demonstrates here in support of her father’s struggling campaign, democracy would take a huge leap forward. Here are some excerpts beginning with the an apt appraisal of the media.

“I think that Mississippians are being snookered by neocon zealots on talk radio, Fox News, and elsewhere.”

Clearly Kate is paying attention. Fox News, and a confederacy of wingnut pundits, have led the Tea Party parade to replace “establishment” Republicans with ignoramuses who robotically spout pre-chewed Teabaggerisms. It is something for which the GOP should feel profoundly embarrassed. She goes on…

“The New Right values extremism, obstructionism, partisanship, and–frankly–ignorance. I am disappointed to realize that the New Right seems to want to walk hand-in-hand with the horrible strain of anti-intellectualism that sees universities as vocational schools and vilifies anyone expert in a field as somehow not living in the ‘real world’ or representative of ‘real people.’”

Anti-intellectualism is a hallmark of the New Right. They ridicule graduates of Harvard and Yale as being unable to relate to “regular” folk. But the whole notion of wanting someone “regular” to assume the responsibilities of shaping the future of our nation is unfathomably idiotic. Would these dimwits also want a yokel to perform their heart surgery? The point of electing a representative is to have the best possible person in a position to make the hard decisions. Kate gets this right when she notes that McDaniel’s supporters value him for his lack.

“Lack of experience (he is not a ‘career politician.’) Lack of wisdom (he relies solely on Jesus, the Constitution, and ‘common’ sense–combined in the veneer of ‘goodness’). Lack of judgment (he vows to refuse federal monies and to try to impede legislation). [...] I see these ‘qualities’ as a disingenuous pose, engineered to appeal to the very worst in our electorate.”

Indeed. If all voters are looking for is affirmation of their biblical fears and shallow interpretations of constitutional principles that border on another form of worship, then the Tea Party is their ideal political savior. But like religion, the Tea Party is focused mostly on imminent disaster and destruction. The economy is collapsing; morality and family are under attack; freedom is slipping away; and the devil is ushering in a communist/Muslim millennium of torment. They have no solutions, only harbingers of doom. Kate closes with this personal perspective:

“I find his campaign appalling on intellectual, moral, and idealist levels. The fact that Mississippi voters are even considering his candidacy saddens me more than I can say. Mississippi used to be recognized as the most backward, prejudiced, ignorant holdback in our nation, hands down. This sea change makes me very afraid that we might deserve that mantle.”

What’s really sad is that it takes this sort of political smack in the head for many Republicans to grasp just how dangerous and ignorant the Tea Party and its disciples are. It’s encouraging that Kate has come around, and her articulate passion is moving and profound. But the sort of experience that inspired it is not likely to be shared by many others. Consequently, America will continue to be saddled with this mindless cult of stooges who unknowingly help cloistered billionaires to shape a world that keeps them oppressed. At least for a while.

The New GOP Majority Whip Is A Climate Change Denying Koch Brothers Flunkey

When Eric Cantor lost his primary bid to run for reelection to his Virginia congressional seat, he set off a game of musical chairs within the Republican leadership ranks in the House. Today the GOP caucus chose Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy to replace Cantor as Majority Leader. Subsequently, they needed to fill the new vacancy in the Whip’s post. for that role they chose Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise.

Rep. Steve Scalise

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Scalise is regarded as a far-right conservative aligned with the Tea Party. He is currently the chair of the Republican Study Committee, an offshoot of the GOP caucus with an avowed ultra-rightist slant. Wikipedia notes that…

“The organization has long had ties to outside groups closely allied with the most conservative elements of the Republican Party, such as the National Rifle Association, The Heritage Foundation, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America and the conservative magazine National Review, as well as the libertarian Cato Institute.”

Last year Scalise authored a resolution that falsely asserted that “a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy” and “to American families and businesses,” and that it would “fall hardest on the poor, the elderly, and those on fixed incomes.” The bill was backed by the Koch brothers who spent heavily on lobbyists to insure its passage.

But for a real taste of the idiocy that is being incorporated into the highest ranks of the GOP elite, you need look no further than Scalise’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last year where he had this to say about Climate Change (video below):

“He [President Obama] talked about global warming at his inauguration, I found it ironic that the President was wearing a trench coat it was so cold, but he’s talking about global warming.”

So Scalise is one of those anti-science dimwits who doesn’t know the difference between weather and climate. He believes that the 97% of the scientists who affirm that climate change is real and man-made are perpetrating a hoax. He is an advocate for Big Oil, going so far as to defend BP after the disastrous 2010 calamity in the Gulf of Mexico, saying that “This job killing ban on drilling is causing more problems right now than” the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

And now he is the Republican Majority Whip and the third highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. Well, at least for the next few months, when there will be another vote. If Democrats will get off their duffs and vote in November, we may not need to worry about him or the rest of the Republican Dark Agists.

GOPee Yew: What The Media Isn’t Telling You About Obama’s Poll Numbers

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (pdf) has some decidedly bad news for President Obama. The American people, according to this survey, are losing patience with the President and expressing it with low opinions of his job performance, foreign policy, and leadership. It is a distinct concern for him as his administration heads into its final two years.

That said, the news isn’t all bad. But far be it for the media to put the results in context so that people get a balanced perspective of the nation’s mood. In addition to the floundering numbers, there are some areas that ought to produce some optimism for the President and those aligned with his policies. First among them is the fact that, while Obama’s numbers are nothing to write home about, his political rivals are doing so much worse that may want to run away from home.

NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll

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Both the President and his party are putting the Republicans to shame. He is 30% more popular than the Republican Party, and nearly 50% more popular than the laughably inane Tea Party. If his presidency is over, as some right-wing pundits are gleefully claiming, what does that mean for conservatives?

And that’s not all. When asked which party they prefer to control Congress, respondents chose Democrats over Republicans by 45% to 43%. The poll also reports that progressive positions on prominent issues are far more popular than those of conservatives. For instance, respondents support the Common Core education initiative 59/31. They believe that immigration helps rather than hurts the nation 47/42. They advocate action on climate change 61/37. They approve of Obama’s recent move to set strict carbon dioxide emission limits 67/29.

Clearly the electorate is in a bad mood, and they are taking it out, with justification, on their representatives. But when directly asked about solutions to the problems that affect them most, they consistently respond with agreement for the liberal agenda.

So why doesn’t the press report that? This is the so-called “liberal” media we’re talking about. Apparently they are not as driven by partisanship as right-wingers would have you believe with all of their childish carping. More likely the media is driven by ratings and revenue. In that regard, conflict and drama have always been a bigger draw than harmony. It’s the same reason that local news features murders and car chases, rather than more uplifting stories.

Obama has some work to do to counteract the effect of the relentlessly negative coverage he receives. Even the arrest of a suspect in the Benghazi attack drew absurd criticisms from Fox News and other wingnut media. But in the interim, it is important to look below the surface to see the whole story. And what this survey is telling us is that if Democrats run on progressive policies they are more likely to achieve success at the polls later this year and in 2016.

Fox News Is STILL Killing The Republican Party

Once again, an academic study of the American electorate has found that “Fox News Republicans are the most uninformed.” This new survey was conducted by the The Brookings Institution along with the Public Religion Research Institute. What’s different about this study is that it does not merely pit Republicans against Democrats and Independents. It distinguishes between Republicans who regularly watch Fox News and those who don’t. And the conclusions reveal that Fox News Republicans are even more uninformed and extreme in their views than their non-fox viewing comrades in the same party.

Go Fox Yourself

What this tells us is that Fox News is polluting the Republicans who tune in to the network with reporting and commentary that is biased, misleading, and downright false. The ideological corruption is evident in some basic political differences between the Foxies and the Foxless. For instance, the DREAM Act was drafted to permit undocumented residents who came to the U.S. as children, and either completed college or served in the military, to obtain temporary residency status and eventually apply for citizenship. This bill is supported by a 62% majority of Foxless Republicans, but only 42% of GOP Foxies. Likewise, the campaign to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour is supported by a majority of 56% of the Foxless, but only 33% of the Foxies. In both cases the Foxless Republicans are more closely aligned with the electorate at large. It is the Foxies who hold the extremist position on the fringes of the far right.

The study asks the question: Does Fox News cause ignorance, or do ignorant viewers prefer Fox News? The answer is not particularly clear cut and is likely a combination of the two. However, the real problems for the GOP come into the equation when the party tries to evaluate the opinions of their constituents as represented by the folks at Fox News. It’s clear that the Fox version of Republican views are far removed from reality. The study notes that party strategists may think that the Foxy…

“…represents the center of the GOP. Under that mindset, presidential candidates should adopt a policy platform that appeals to the average Fox News viewer. But that’s a mistake when the average Fox News member is an extreme conservative. [...] This makes the Fox News echo chamber a hazard for the party. It creates extreme candidates under the guise that they are electable.”

The notion that Fox News is demonstrably harmful to the Republican Party is one that News Corpse examined five years ago in an article titled “Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party.” Some excerpts show that the results of the new Brookings/PRRI study somewhat belatedly affirm my own conclusions:

There is a case to be made that Fox News is demonstrably harmful to the Republican Party. In fact, it may be the worst thing to happen to Republicans in decades. That may seem counter-intuitive when discussing Fox News, the acknowledged public relations division of the Republican Party. Fox has populated its air with right-wing mouthpieces and brazenly partisan advocates for a conservative Republican agenda. They read GOP press releases on the air verbatim as if they were the product of original research. They provide a forum where Republican politicians and pundits can peddle their views unchallenged. So how is this harmful to Republicans?

Fox has corralled a stable of the most disreputable, unqualified, extremist, lunatics ever assembled, and is presenting them as experts, analysts, and leaders. These third-rate icons of idiocy are marketed by Fox like any other gag gift (i.e. pet rocks, plastic vomit, Sarah Palin, etc.). [...] The problem is that by elevating bona fide nutcases, they are debasing honest and informed discourse. The mental cases are crowding out any reasonable voices that might exist amongst the more moderate Republicans (if there are any left). Fox appears to have made a tactical decision to permit the inmates full run of the asylum.

By doubling down on crazy, Fox is driving the center of the Republican Party further down the rabid hole. They are reshaping the party into a more radicalized community of conspiracy nuts. So even as this helps Rupert Murdoch’s bottom line, it is making celebrities of political bottom-feeders. That can’t be good for the long-term prospects of the Republican Party.

The more the population at large associates Republican ideology with the agenda of Fox News, and the fringe operators residing there, the more the party will be perceived as out of touch, or even out of their minds.

Recent events have borne out the worst of these considerations. Shortly after Fox News heralded the Deadbeat Rancher, Cliven Bundy, as a hero for confronting law enforcement officers with armed militia, three people, including two police officers, were murdered in Las Vegas, by a pair of Tea Party Terrorists. The perpetrators were the spitting image of the Fox News profile for conservative activists who virulently opposed what Fox told them was a rogue government that was devolving into a godless abyss of socialist deception and tyranny.

In addition, Fox News has stridently pursued a political agenda that seems to be intent on alienating the most critical voter demographic groups, including African-Americans, Latinos, women, and youth. And lately they even added their most loyal viewers to that list. The median age of the Fox News audience is 69 years old. That’s six years older than the median for their competition at CNN and MSNBC. And yet, Fox is embarking on an anti-Hillary Clinton crusade that is largely based on her age. That surely won’t go over well with the seniors tuning in to Fox.

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So with Fox continuing to feature the fringiest characters they can find, and academic studies certifying the damage that this strategy will cause to their purported allies in the GOP, the closing paragraph of my 2009 article is as relevant today as it was then:

The mission of Fox News from its inception was to be more than just a voice of opposition to Democrats. It was to utterly crush the left end of the political spectrum leaving only a teetering right wing with no counter balance. Yet, despite the torrid embrace between Republicans and Fox News, it is apparent that Fox is the source of a sort of friendly fire that is decimating the GOP by exalting its most outlandish and unpopular players. And since Republicans have not been particularly popular anyway lately, the anchor being thrown to them by Fox can’t be all that helpful – – – Except to Democrats.

Right-Wing Media Attacks Twelve Year Old Musicians Because Their Parents Are Democrats

The true conservative ethic is once again on display as a prominent rightist media organization launches a vile attack on twelve year old children who formed a rock band. The impetus for the attack was simply that their parents are Democrats. For the Family Values set, that’s reason enough to go after kids.

Twenty/20

The Washington Free Beacon is a Republican operation with ties to the Koch brothers. An article by Sonny Bunch, the managing editor, sports the headline “Awful Children Release Awful Song.” While nobody cares what this lunkhead thinks of their music, it is utterly deplorable that he calls the kids, whom he certainly has never met, “awful.” If Bunch has a problem with the politics of their parents, he ought not to resort to the cowardice of attacking the kids. What sort of sick pervert does that?

The group, Twenty/20, was featured in a brief profile in the New York Daily News when they released a video of a new song (video below). The young players met at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, which they all attend. Their parents are some of President Obama’s top advisers: Jay Carney’s 12-year-old son, Hugo, is the lead singer. U.S. Trade Rep. Mike Froman’s son Ben plays guitar. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan’s son Lucas plays bass. And Obama campaign adviser Patti Solis Doyle’s son Joey is the drummer.

Those familial relationships was all it took for Bunch to dish dirt on these kids. He described them as being kids “who can kinda hold a guitar or prance around the stage while whinily singing nonsense.” Then he predicts that the “little twerps” will “probably have a keynote gig at the Democratic convention.”

But Bunch isn’t through with his juvenile insults. After inviting you to listen to their “caterwauling” he expects you to agree that “we can reach bipartisan consensus that this song is utter shite, right? “ Then he reviews young Hugo’s singing saying that he “sounds like the whiny, nasally, prepubescent whelp that he is.” Remember, these are twelve year olds he’s talking about. Yet he sounds more like a whiny whelp than they do.

Finally, Bunch attempts to preempt criticism of his craven child abuse by mocking those (like myself) who find it disgusting to take out your political aggression on innocent children. But he defends his immorality by suggesting that because Carney’s kids were part of a magazine’s family profile a few weeks ago, they are now fair game to be maligned by the allegedly mature editor of a puerile rightist rag. I only hope that if he has any kids they don’t suffer the same sort of depravity that he is shoveling here. But then again, they are likely already suffering from having such a dipshit for a dad.

Here is the video of Twenty/20′s song “Heart Thief.” It may not be U2, or even The Ramones, but it shows promise and eagerness. They are clearly having a good time and demonstrating a commitment to something more creative than video games. They should be encouraged to continue to express themselves – as should all kids. As for Bunch, he should be encouraged to shut his fat, ignorant, hateful mouth.

BACKFIRE: Wingnuts Compare ObamaCare To The VA – Which Most Veterans Love

With the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, the Republican malice machine has continued to spin at full strength. Whether or not Shinseki was a scapegoat, his departure will not satisfy the bloodlust of the GOP, nor cause them to defer attacks on President Obama long enough to actually help find solutions. However, their inbred negativity and hatred for Obama is causing them to misfire in ways that only further embarrass themselves.

In yet another right-wing assault on the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), the conservative opponents of health care have once again managed to mangle their message. Their intent has been to associate ObamaCare, which they viscerally despise despite its growing popularity, with the burgeoning scandal at the Veterans Administration.

ObamaCare vs. VA

From across the Tea Party frontier we can hear the outraged call of the Yellow Tailed Wingnut complaining that ObamaCare will doom us all to fates of suffering, death, and worse – Socialism! Their high-pitched squeal is recognizable and notable for its uniformity.

  • Rush Limbaugh: If you want to know where we’re headed as a country with health care, take a look at the VA.
  • Ann Coulter: We’re all going to be getting the same health care the vets are getting under ObamaCare.
  • Gary Graham (Actor): If you like the way the VA is working … you’re gonna love ObamaCare.
  • Jason Riley (Wall Street Journal): If you want to see where our nationalized health care system is headed, look at the VA system.
  • Wayne Allyn Root (Fox News Contributor): With Obamacare as the law of the land, we are all veterans now.
  • Phyllis Schlafly: [The VA is] A good window into the future of Obamacare
  • Kimberly Guilfoyle (Fox News Host): This is really what the rest of you all are going to get: One big fat VA system in the form of Obamacare. [Note: This one was rated a "Pants On Fire" lie by PolitiFact]

To be sure, the VA is undergoing a difficult period, exacerbated by Republicans in Congress obstructing necessary funding and the added burden of hundreds of thousands of new veterans created by Bush’s wars. And there is no excuse for falsifying records in order to mask the problems. But even with the serious issues surfacing in the past few weeks, the VA is a highly regarded institution that serves the vast majority of its patients with compassion and competence.

A recent survey completed in 2013 for the independent American Customer Satisfaction Index (during the precise time period when the latest abuses allegedly occurred) reported that customer satisfaction among veteran patients was “among the best in the nation and equal to or better than ratings for private sector hospitals.” Ratings for satisfaction and loyalty were overwhelmingly positive, exceeding 80% and 90% respectively. And specific responses regarding quality of care were off-the-charts positive.

“Veterans also responded positively to questions related to customer service for both VA inpatient care (92 percent favorable) and outpatient care (91 percent). Medical providers and appointment personnel were considered highly courteous with scores of 92 and 91, respectively. Additionally, VA medical providers ranked high in professionalism (90 percent positive).”

The positive assessment of the VA’s overall performance, however, does not mean that problems should be ignored. There is obviously room for improvement. Unfortunately, Republicans are not interested in improvement. In fact, they are ideologically shackled to failure. Their whole political philosophy revolves around the belief that government is inept and incapable of doing anything worthwhile (except wage war). Consequently, their mission is to deliberately sabotage every government initiative they encounter.

They aspire to failure because it proves their thesis that the only thing government excels at is failing. And it may even explain why the VA scandal is almost exclusively confined to red states like Arizona, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Is it just a coincidence that all of those GOP-led states, where local managers are responsible for the VA’s operations, are battling inefficiency and fraud? Or is it consistent with the Republican agenda that is also obstructing the Medicaid expansion provided by ObamaCare in many of those same states?

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Still, with broad-based, national survey results delivering such positive assessments, the rest of the country would be overjoyed to receive the sort of care that has pleased the vast majority of veterans. And if, as the wingnut brigade above asserts, the VA represents the future of health care under ObamaCare, then America is in for a real improvement in both medical outcomes and experiences. We can only hope that the Limbaughs and Coulters of the world are right this time, for a change.

Geezer Karl Rove Tells Fox News That Hillary Clinton Is ‘Old And Stale’

The Republican Party already has serious problems with some of the most critical voting demographics. They have thoroughly alienated African-Americans and Latinos. Their appeal to young voters is weak and worsening. Thanks to their opposition to reproductive choice and pay equity, women are loathe to consider Republican candidates. And now the politically tone deaf GOP is determined to antagonize the nation’s most reliable voting bloc – senior citizens.

Karl Rove

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It’s not bad enough that Republicans have already put some distance between themselves and seniors by proposing cuts to Medicare and the privatization of Social Security. The latest insult to older Americans is that they are not fit to serve in public office, particularly the presidency.

This view was clumsily articulated by master GOP strategist, Karl Rove, who appeared on Fox News today to criticize Hillary Clinton. According to Rove, the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State is in a “vulnerable position” due to her age and experience. Rove said that people won’t like Clinton because “they want to see a fighter,” which he seems to believe is a trait that only the young’uns can muster. His precise wording was…

“In American politics, there’s a sense you want to be new, you don’t want to be too familiar, you want to be something fresh, you don’t want to be something old and stale.”

Make no mistake, Rove deliberately chose the words “old and stale” to invoke Clinton’s age. It was just as deliberate as his disgusting choice of words last week to falsely suggest that Clinton had suffered brain damage in a fall last year. This is typical Rovian, slash-and-burn politics.

It is also strikingly stupid when you consider the most recent Republican candidates for president, whom Rove certainly supported. There was Mitt Romney, a two-term governor who ran for president twice, making him rather familiar. There was John McCain who is even older than Clinton and served as senator for more than two decades. Before that it was Rove’s own invention, George W. Bush, another two-term governor and the son of a president and the grandson of a senator. Prior to that it was the 73 year old, 27 year senate veteran and Republican leader Bob Dole. Before him was W’s dad, who had been around Washington for decades as a congressman, CIA director, and vice-president. Preceding him was Ronald Reagan, who was also older than Clinton when he was inaugurated after serving as governor of California and multiple runs for the White House.

Do the terms “fresh,” or “new,” or “unfamiliar,” apply to any of those candidates? Does Rove’s perception of what is old and stale only apply to Democrats – or women? And is Rove suddenly enamored of the sort of inexperience and unfamiliarity that he used to disparage when talking about President Obama? In fact, the entire Republican Party that once mocked Obama as a novice, is now almost exclusively fixated on even greener pols like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Ben Carson. Those are the candidates to whom Rove is referring when he says that voters are looking for “a Republican with a constructive conservative agenda with the future.” Unfortunately they, like most Republicans, have their sights set squarely on the distant past, circa Dark Ages.

Worst of all, Rove is demonstrating open contempt for senior citizens with his insults to their capacity to be effective leaders. So even dismissing his rank hypocrisy, he is not making any friends with the older voters he clearly despises. Hopefully, Clinton’s campaign, should it materialize, will remind these mature voters just how scornfully Republicans regard them and their ability to contribute to society.

Fox News Wastes No Time Lying About Pelosi’s Comments On The Benghazi Kangaroo Committee

Two weeks ago Republican House Speaker John Boehner announced the formation of the House Select Committee On Politicizing Benghazi. Since that time, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has been weighing whether to participate in the obvious charade being performed by House Republicans. Today she decided that Democrats needed to be represented on the panel and named the five members who would fill that role (Pelosi video).

Fox News Pelosi

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Fox News carried the announcement (although they cut short their coverage when the new ranking member, Elijah Cummings began his remarks), but they wasted no time following the event to utterly distort what Pelosi had just said. She began by lamenting that it was unfortunate that “…the Republican obsession with Benghazi has not been about the victims, their families, or our country.” And she could not have been more clear about her condemnation of the blatant partisanship and politicization of the process by Republicans. [Emphasis added]

Pelosi: Over the past two weeks we have engaged in good faith discussions with Speaker Boehner over the shape and standards of the Select Committee. We had hoped for a level of fairness, transparency, and balance. Especially considering the subject matter. We were not able to reach any agreement. Regretably, the Republican approach does not prevent the unacceptable and repeated abuses by committee Chairman Issa in any meaningful way.

Consequently, Pelosi concluded that the history of Republican corruption in previous hearings made it “all the more reason for Democrats to participate.” That’s not a particularly compelling argument. The risk that participation would confer a measure of credibility to the committee was more than enough reason to abstain. Nevertheless, Pelosi had made her decision despite some lingering doubts.

Pelosi: I could have argued this either way. Why give any validity to this effort? But I do feel it’s important to the American people to have a pursuit of these questions in as fair and open and balanced way as possible. That simply would not be possible leaving it to the Republicans.

Immediately following Pelosi’s remarks, Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson broke in with a loaded question for correspondent Catherine Herridge. But it was Herridge’s response that twisted Pelosi’s words into an unrecognizable pile of Fox-excreted cow droppings (Fox video).

Carlson: I don’t know how you feel about this, but I’m stunned that Nancy Pelosi has made this decision because we just heard from Jay Carney a few moments ago, still calling it a Republican conspiracy theory.

Herridge: Well, Gretchen, the thing that jumped out at me in this news conference is that there seems to be a subtle shift in tone. What we have heard consistently from the Democratic leadership is that this is going to be a kangaroo court. We did not hear that at the news conference. I think what we heard was a recognition by the Democrats that they must now engage in a very serious way with the Republican-led Select Committee. And this is a reflection of the fact the members of this Republican Select Committee are very serious in nature.

Where on earth did Herridge get the impression that Democrats were recognizing any speck of seriousness on the part of the Republican pretenders orchestrating this phony committee? Pelosi had just slammed them as repeatedly abusive and untrustworthy when left alone. It almost seems as if Herridge is attempting to portray Pelosi as expressing respect for the committee she just finished denouncing as unfair and unnecessary. Herridge continued, and added a new element of political intrigue to the discussion.

Herridge: So this is a recognition by the Democrats that they must seriously engage, and that it would be a political mistake not to be engaged and to leave some of these issues unanswered. Especially leading up to the midterm elections.

Note that this is the first reference to politics. Pelosi said nothing about it in her remarks, but Herridge has now accused Pelosi of making a politically driven decision aimed at the upcoming midterm elections in November. Herridge’s introduction of politics is as baseless and offensive as the the Republicans efforts to fundraise off of the Benghazi tragedy. And then she follows up with a decidedly biased and negative characterization of the Democrats just assigned to the committee.

Herridge: What’s also striking to me, I think you could make the argument that several of the committee members are true partisans and have been on the attack on Benghazi from the get-go. So they seem to have been picked by the Speaker (sic) as way to answer these Republican allegations the administration, in effect, dropped the ball on Benghazi, they mislead the American people, and even more specifically that there was real negligence at the State Department that was led by Mrs. Clinton.

Really? After praising the Republicans on the committee as “serious,” Herridge is calling the Democrats “true partisans” who have been on the attack? Wouldn’t that description better fit the Republicans (and, of course, Fox News) who have been attacking on this issue for nearly two years? Herridge even mistakenly referred to Pelosi as the Speaker as she launched into a diatribe against Democrats, the administration, and Hillary Clinton, whom she baselessly called “negligent.” At this point Carlson chirped back in to dishonestly put words into Pelosi’s mouth.

Carlson: So Catherine, you’ve been covering this from the beginning. What happened in these meeting with John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi to go from just last week Pelosi saying Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, and not wanting to talk about it, to now saying “Well, we need to give validity to this effort?”

Of course, Pelosi never said that she needs to give validity to the committee. Quite the opposite. She clearly communicated that the only reason she was participating in the GOP farce was because it is so utterly lacking in validity. However, Herridge is demonstrating why the Democrats should have refrained from participation. Because even when they explicitly declare that the committee has no validity, Fox News and the GOP will twist their words to imply a validity that doesn’t exist. And if that isn’t enough, Herridge then went on to heap more praise on the Republican members of the committee.

Herridge: There is a real recognition that this is going to be a serious-minded investigation. The Republicans have chosen people with the requisite oversight background, also a legal background, two former U.S. attorneys, and they will, in effect, be able to move through this in a very methodical way. And they will be able to fill in these gaps. And it’s these gaps that represent, I believe, based on my reporting, real jeopardy for the Democrats, for the White House, and even more specifically, for former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and what this may mean for her possible presidential ambitions.

Once again, Herridge has injected politics into the debate, along with her perspective/hope that the committee’s work will be harmful to Democrats, particularly President Obama and Secretary Clinton. And if she hasn’t yet made herself clear, this is how she framed her bottom line.

Herridge: But the bottom line, for the folks at home, is the Democrats recognize it’s going to be a serious effort, and would be a political mistake not to engage in the fullest possible way.

In all, Herridge said four times that Democrats recognize that the committee will conduct a serious investigation, despite having no confirmation of that view from any Democrat. Herridge simply made it up, (much like the way Fox News produces most of their stories). And she repeatedly thrust politics into the discussion. In that regard she may be revealing the true motives of Fox News and the Republican Party. Neither are the least bit interested in a search for answers or solutions. From the start, the Benghazi fever that has infected Fox and the GOP was always about politics. It was, and is, an attempt to tarnish the President and to conduct a preemptive strike against Hillary Clinton’s possible campaign for president in 2016. They couldn’t care less about the American lives that were lost or about ways to prevent such loss in the future.

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The reporting by Fox News recounted above came just seconds after Pelosi’s televised announcement about the Democratic members she assigned to the committee. So Fox had to have been prepared in advance with the harshly partisan and political response that ensued. This was an orchestrated hit job on Pelosi that was likely devised by Fox’s CEO, and former Republican media strategist, Roger Ailes. And it illustrates, once again, that Fox is not even pretending to be a news enterprise. It is a brazenly partisan division of the Republican Party and a mouthpiece for raging conservatism.

Faux Outrage From Fox News Ignores GOP Role In Veterans Administration Scandal

The news that Veterans Administration facilities in Arizona were allegedly falsifying records to hide extensive backlogs in patient care has roiled both Democrats and Republicans in Washington. If the allegations are proven, this would be a monumental abdication of the government’s obligations to the men and women who have sacrificed so much for their country.

Right-Wing Media Circus

Unfortunately, partisan politicians and pundits have sunk to the depths where they are most accustomed as they seek to politicize the matter. At the bottom of that list is Fox News where reporting has consumed much of the airtime they had previously reserved for their Benghazi frenzy. In the few short weeks that the VA has been in the news Fox has already attempted to assign personal blame for it on President Obama, and Republican alarmists are calling for administration scalps. That’s all before any responsible investigations have been completed that would ascertain the actual causes and the identities of those responsible. It’s straight out of the GOP attack manual: Ready…Shoot…Aim.

However, while Fox News, and the rest of the right-wing media machine, is predictably trying to indict the President for crimes for which they have no supporting evidence, real facts are being dismissed and/or ignored. Foremost among these would include inquiries into the root causes of a health care agency abandoning its primary mission. In that regard, the economic pressures on the agency would be most relevant. So let’s take a look at the recent congressional budget battles that show Republicans aggressively cutting veterans benefits and funds for the VA:

2/12/2007: The Bush administration’s budget assumes cuts to funding for veterans’ health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system.

03/21/2012: If enacted, the Ryan GOP budget would cut $11 billion from veterans spending, or 13 percent from what President Obama proposes in his own plan.

02/27/2014: U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget. [...] For example, it called for 27 new medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Needless to say, these funds would have gone a long way to serving the growing veterans community. Instead, the efforts on the part of the GOP to facilitate their top legislative agenda – deficit reduction – clearly weigh on the ability of the VA to perform its core mission. And the Republicans obsession with debt far outstrips their commitment to veterans, or any other financially-challenged constituency. The same priorities were in effect when Republicans led the nation into the devastating budget sequester and the government shutdown last year:

10/10/2013: Politicians love to love veterans, but the military heroes could be suffering some major losses due to the ongoing GOP-led government shutdown.

For the record, the problems at the VA are neither new nor the fault of Democrats. As noted above, it was Republicans who have repeatedly denied scarce funding to the VA. What’s more, the delays and deficiencies have been an ongoing issue dating back at least to the beginning of the Bush administration. Documents acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that

“A database of paid claims by the VA since 2001 includes 167 in which the words ‘delay in treatment’ is used in the description. The VA paid out a total of $36.4 million to settle those claims, either voluntarily or as part of a court action.”

For some reason Fox News never complained about any of those delays during the Bush years. Nor have they acknowledged that much of the current stress on the system is due to the surge in new veterans produced by Bush’s wars. There is, of course, no excuse for falsifying records and putting veterans lives risk. However, in order to fully comprehend the problem, all of the contributing factors need to be reviewed. And conservative media is way too devoted to poisoning the public debate with unfounded attacks against the President and his administration, to honestly present a balanced portrait of the situation and the potential solutions.

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Consequently, we can expect Fox News to continue to point a bony finger of phony blame at Obama, just as they have been doing with Benghazi, the IRS, the Affordable Care Act, and a multitude of other fake scandals (ObamaCars, ObamaPhones, ObamaGolf, ObamaBirth, etc. ad nauseum). And they will exploit these inanities rather than seek real answers to real problems. Because just like the GOP, Fox is more concerned with their own parochial interests than the welfare of Americans or America.

Chalk One Up For The Republican Taliban (aka Tea Party)

Yesterday’s primary election in Nebraska was won by Ben Sasse, the candidate who proudly solicited and received the support of such notables as Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Erick Erickson, and Fox News. Sasse’s campaign was bankrolled by the Koch brothers via their Americans for Prosperity front group.

Ben Sasse

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The core of Sasse’s message was his promise to repeal every word of the Affordable Care Act, including the parts that end discrimination based on preexisting conditions, the ability for children up to 26 to be on their parent’s policies, prohibiting insurers from cancelling plans when a claim is filed, and the elimination of annual or lifetime limits on healthcare.

Sasse ran a typical Tea Party campaign that pandered to conspiracy theorists and religious extremists. He boasted of his devotion to the most radical form of “religious liberty” that would effectively condone discrimination and permit religious zealots to violate any law they deemed in conflict with their faith. On his website he says…

“Ben Sasse believes that our right to the free exercise of religion is co-equal to our right to life. This is not a negotiable issue. Government cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances. He will fight for the right of all Americans to act in accordance with their conscience.”

Under any circumstances? So Sasse will fight for the right of all Americans to stone adulterers to death; to have sex with children; to burn crosses; to refuse service (and housing and jobs) to gays, African-Americans, Jews, etc.; and to ban dancing (sorry Kevin Bacon)? At the same time, Sasse would have to support the use of illegal drugs, polygamy, and public nudity.

Unfortunately, Nebraska is a blood red state that is almost certain to elect the Republican on the ballot. This means that, barring a calamitous misstep, Sasse will be the next senator from Nebraska. He can be relied upon to try to turn the clock back on civil rights, health care, the environment, and true religious liberty that respects human rights and the Constitution. And that’s the sort of agenda that has the American Taliban celebrating on this primary morning after.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Painfully Desperate And Stupid Attack On Elizabeth Warren

By now everyone with a pulse knows that Fox News is an unabashed mouthpiece for the Republican Party and their Tea-sotted radicalism. So it is not much of a surprise when they brazenly twist, mutilate, and ignore facts to advance their conservative agenda. However, every now and then the unparalleled idiocy of the Fox Nation editors still manages to boggle the mind.

When GOP Speaker John Boehner announced the formation of the House Select Committee to Shamelessly Politicize Benghazi, his GOP comrades immediately set out to profit from the affair by cravenly soliciting donations based on their starkly partisan scandal mongering. It was a nauseating display of disrespect for the seriousness of the subject and the tragic loss of American lives. Numerous media reports properly criticized Republicans for this act of political opportunism and greed. So what does Fox News do about it?

Fox Nation

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That’s right. Fox attempts to turn the tables on their critics and accuse Democrats of similarly callous fundraising. But instead, this wild swing at Sen. Elizabeth Warren demonstrates the desperation and stupidity of the right, more than any malfeasance by Warren.

The example of alleged fundraising by Warren offered by Fox News, on their hopelessly lie-riddled Fox Nation website, consisted solely of an image taken from Warren’s website where she wrote a blog post about the new GOP Benghazi committee. Fox’s article was sourced to the ultra-rightist Washington Free Beacon, a Republican run and Koch brothers affiliated organization. On her blog Warren noted that she had previous experience with committee chair Trey Gowdy’s aggressive ignorance when he was a member of the committee that interviewed her with regard to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. On the formation of the Benghazi panel she said…

“The House GOP is on a waste-of-time-and-resources witch hunt and fundraising sideshow, shamefully grasping for any straw to make President Obama, former Secretary Clinton, or Secretary Kerry look bad.”

The supposed proof that Warren was using Benghazi to raise money was the presence of links on her website to a donations page. However, those links had nothing to do with the article she wrote on Benghazi. They are a part of her website’s standard template and appear on every page on the site. Any sixth-grader knows this about the Internet, but that’s apparently too high a bar for Fox News.

Now compare that to the manner in which Republicans explicitly tied their fundraising to Benghazi. The images below were taken from the official pages of the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. And they were not some standard template page, but the actual donations page for each site.

GOP Benghazi Fundraising

Note that these pages directly refer to Benghazi in making their plea for cash. For instance, the RNC page says “Thanks for standing with us and demanding the truth about Benghazi.” The NRCC page says of their donors that “You’re now a Benghazi Watchdog” (whatever that is). And the NRSC says to “donate today” because “You’re being lied to about Benghazi.” In each case the connection between Benghazi and the donation was flagrantly obvious. As opposed to the references on Warren’s site which were incidental and unrelated to her commentary.

Trying to assert that there is something in common with Warren’s page and those of the GOP says more about the desperation of the Republican Party to counter the criticisms that they so richly deserve. It also affirms the low esteem with which they regard their followers if they believe that such an ignorant argument can be persuasive. And if the leading Republican institutions think that their party members are this stupid, then what should the rest of us think?

Benghazi-Palooza: The New York Times Nails The Republican Circus

Gowdy DoodySomething has gotten into the water at the New York Times. This week they published an editorial that is not only rich in facts and substance, it is entertaining and persuasive. The headline announced an excursion into the “Center Ring at the Republican Circus.” And the opening paragraph may be the best introduction to a Times editorial ever:

“The hottest competition in Washington this week is among House Republicans vying for a seat on the Benghazi kangaroo court, also known as the Select House Committee to Inflate a Tragedy Into a Scandal. Half the House has asked to ‘serve’ on the committee, which is understandable since it’s the perfect opportunity to avoid any real work while waving frantically to right-wing voters stomping their feet in the grandstand.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. The Times’ editorial board appears to have hired some writers with both insight and humor. They correctly note that the committee is an unambiguous fraud whose members are only concerned with promoting a manufactured scandal and, of course, themselves. The article goes on to say that the GOP Congress…

“…won’t pass a serious jobs bill, or raise the minimum wage, or reform immigration, but House Republicans think they can earn their pay for the rest of the year by exposing nonexistent malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration.”

The newly appointed chair of the committee, Trey Gowdy, recently proved that he is unfit to lead a fair hearing when he admitted that his party runs the House in a brazenly biased manner. Discussing whether another committee should call expert witnesses to determine whether Lois Lerner waived her 5th Amendment rights, Gowdy said “Let me take out all of the drama. We would pick three that said she waived, and they would pick one that said she didn’t. I hate to do a spoiler, but that’s the way that hearing would go.”

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

In other words, he is admitting that the GOP-run House would stack the deck in their own favor. So why bother discussing it with experts. That’s a preview of how he can be expected to run the Benghazi committee. And with regard to that IRS pseudo-scandal, the Times continued to needle the scandal mongering of the GOP, saying that Lerner is the person that…

“…they would love to blame for the administration’s crackdown on conservative groups, if only they could prove there was a crackdown, which they can’t, because there wasn’t.”

In addition, the Times couldn’t let the right-wing’s previous obsession with ObamaCare go unmentioned just because it didn’t happen to mark the commencement of Armageddon like they predicted/hoped. So the article noted the GOP’s…

“…need to rouse the most fervent anti-Obama wing of the party and keep it angry enough to deliver its donations and votes to Republicans in the November elections. For a while it seemed as if the Affordable Care Act would perform that role, but Republicans ran into a problem when the country began to realize that it was not destroying American civilization but in fact helping millions of people.”

Finally, the editorial concluded with the correct advice for wavering Democrats:

“Democrats who are now debating whether to participate in the committee shouldn’t hesitate to skip it. Their presence would only lend legitimacy to a farce.”

I can’t remember the last time I read an editorial in the Times that was so spot on in its analysis and delivered with such punch. I hope this wasn’t an aberration or the work of a ghost editor who has since faded back into the ether. We need more of this kind of commentary. And we need it from more than just the New York Times.

Benghazi Committee Commences As Phony Fox News Scandal Falls Apart

The Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, announced today that he has chosen the rabidly partisan South Carolina Tea Party congressman, Trey Gowdy, to chair a special committee to waste more time and money investigating their trumped up Benghazi scandal. In naming Gowdy, Boehner praised his determination and desire for truth saying that…

“Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused, and serious-minded as they come. I know he shares my commitment to get to the bottom of this tragedy.”

Benghazi

Of course the truth is that neither Boehner nor Gowdy have any interest in getting to the bottom of anything. Their statements and actions for the past year and a half show that they are only interested in politicizing a tragic loss of American lives. Having failed to uncover even a sliver of evidence of any wrongdoing, Boehner is, in effect, insulting his own colleagues in Congress (i.e. Darrell Issa) who have been conducting pseudo-investigations without producing the hoped for “smoking guns” with which they could continue their campaign of political slander.

With the appointment of Gowdy, Republicans will have an attack dog in charge of the panel who has demonstrated his bitterly prejudiced views on this subject. Here are just a few of his past comments regarding the issue he is now pretending to seek the truth about:

  • 4/28/2013: There are more Benghazi hearings coming; I think they’re going to be explosive. [That never came to pass]
  • 5/7/2013: I think I can prove tomorrow that it was an intentional misrepresentation by Susan Rice and others. [That was a year ago, and still no proof]
  • 8/2/2013: What creates the appearance and perhaps the reality of a cover-up? Not letting us talk with people who have the most amount of information, dispersing them around the country and changing their names. [Here he is descending into a delusional conspiracy theory for which he provided no evidence]
  • 12/31/2013: What in the world explains the violence in Benghazi prior to the video being translated and released? Our consulate was attacked way before the video was released. [And this is just patently false]

This background on the man who will be chairing the committee shows that Boehner and his party are not really taking this matter seriously. It is a desperate attempt to dig up some political mud to throw, to tarnish the prospective presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton in 2016, and to salvage Boehner’s sinking reputation with the far-right fringe of his party whom he needs if he wants to be Speaker in the next session of congress.

Adding to the absurdity of convening a special committee on Benghazi is that the foundation of the GOP’s case keeps collapsing. Just as Gowdy’s predictions from a year ago never materialized, the most recent allegations are likewise illusory. The email that has become the object of their obsession reveals nothing new and doesn’t even refer to Benghazi in the portion they have latched onto. So now some Republicans are swerving to claim that the real outrage is the whereabouts of President Obama when the attack in Libya was taking place, and whether or not he was in the Situation Room at the White House. The only problem with that line of attack is that it is utterly irrelevant to anything. Even when Gretchen Carlson of Fox News tried to light that sparkler, she was doused by Andy Card, George W. Bush’s Chief of Staff:

Carlson: Did you find it unusual that the National Security Adviser, the former one, a few days ago with Bret Baier said that President Obama was not in the Situation Room on the night of the Benghazi attacks? Is that odd or is that normal?

Card: I don’t think that says a lot. The President does not have to be in the Situation Room at every time with every crisis. [...] I don’t think that it’s credible that we would expect, as the the pubic, that the President would be sitting in the Situation Room all the time.

This is the environment in which the Republican’s new committee will meet. They have nothing of substance to contribute. Democrats are considering boycotting the committee. That would be a wise move that would leave the GOP to stink in their juices.

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

The result will be that the GOP will be seen by the American people to have no case, no integrity, and no interest in solving the problems that the people really care about. And if Benghazi is the issue they hope to run with in 2014 – or 2016 – they are going to be sorely disappointed when the returns come in. And they will be able to thank Fox News for their losses. After all, it was Fox, and their CEO Roger Ailes, who masterminded the Benghazi myth and worked tirelessly to prop it up.

foxnews-ailes-benghazi

STFU: Fox News Shuts Down Comments On Article About Gay Republican

As the PR division of the Republican Party, Fox News has the massive burden of improving the public impression of a party that is widely viewed as being intolerant of minorities, dismissive of women, advocates for the rich, and proselytizers for a distinctly right-wing flavor of Christianity. While the GOP claims to want to broaden the appeal of the party, their policies work to do just the opposite. This makes the job much more difficult for Fox News who are trying to solicit favor from Latinos while opposing immigration; from women while opposing equal pay; from African-Americans while opposing affirmative action; and from workers while opposing unions, unemployment benefits, and raising the minimum wage.

Add to these groups the LGBT community. This is a particularly tough needle to thread for Fox and the GOP. They want to appear to be open-minded, but their positions are fervently anti-gay. They oppose marriage equality, non-discrimination in the workplace, hospital and survivor benefits, etc. And they are not particularly welcoming to gay Republican groups like GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans.

Fox News

This isn’t the only thing Fox is afraid of.
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

Somehow, Fox News needs to advance its mission of electing more Republicans without alienating their conservative, Tea Party base. In pursuit of that end, Fox ran a story by Dana Perino, former press Secretary for George W. Bush and a Fox News contributor, that sought to expose what she regards as hypocrisy on the part of Democrats. The article was titled “Straight Talk About Gay Republican Congressional Candidate Carl DeMaio,” and questioned why Democrats were withholding their support from a gay San Diego congressional candidate that she thought Democrats should back automatically.

The notion that Democrats have some inherent responsibility to back any candidate on the basis of their sexual orientation is absurd. Democrats will not support gays (or women or African-Americans or Latinos, etc.) who work against the interests of their constituents. To suggest that they should is a remarkably ignorant and narrow-minded view of civic duty. It is also not the course that ethical gays would take. For example, Stampp Corbin, publisher of the San Diego LGBT Weekly, addressed DeMaio’s candidacy saying that

“The Republican Party platform says Republicans ‘reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.’ The Democratic platform says ‘Gay rights are human rights.’ Could there be more of a contrast? [...] Why would LGBT people elect someone who is part of a party that wants to deny LGBT people basic rights?”

Exactly. DeMaio is running against Democratic incumbant Scott Peters, who has been an outspoken advocate of LGBT rights, despite being straight. This is a concept that Perino and Fox News obviously don’t grasp.

However, they do know their audience. Which is why Fox News is not permitting any of them to comment on this story. Even though Fox News allows comments on all of their other news articles, they have closed off comments for this one. Why would they treat this article differently than all of the others? Perhaps because they are aware that the Fox News audience is likely to post derogatory and obscene insults directed at the candidate they are trying to promote. Fox doesn’t want to see the torrent of anti-gay sentiment that they know would occur if they allowed people to post comments.

The same censorship has been enacted at the lie-riddled Fox Nation website. They posted the same story and also prohibited those readers from commenting. Which is even more egregious since Fox Nation is supposed to be the community site where discussion is encouraged. Their mission statement says that…

“The Fox Nation is committed to the core principles of tolerance, open debate, civil discourse, and fair and balanced coverage of the news.”

We already knew that, contrary to their claim, Fox has no commitment to tolerance, civil discourse, or fair and balanced coverage of the news. And now we know that they also do not tolerate open debate. Have you ever heard of a community forum website that prohibited the community from engaging in a forum discussion? That’s “straight talk” Fox News style.