How Effective Would A Travel Ban Be Against Countries With Ebola?

America’s politicians and pundits are engaged in a bitter debate over what to do about the Ebola non-crisis. One of the most fervently argued issues is whether or not to implement a travel ban against countries that are having a problem with Ebola.

GOP Tents America

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Let’s set aside for the moment that the United States is one of those countries, and that conservatives believe that because of our allegedly incompetent president, porous borders, and lax security, it is just going to get worse. So you’d have to ask if the the wingnuts want a travel ban on America.

The remaining arguments center on what benefits and harm will result from a ban on travel. Right-wing politicos have lined up on the side of a ban arguing that it would keep infected persons out of the U.S. On the other side are doctors, scientists, and other public health experts who assert that a ban would serve no purpose because people could still travel to places without a ban and continue on from there to the U.S. In the process they would have slipped though existing monitoring and tracking procedures. In addition, a ban would present an obstacle to the flow of doctors and supplies to the areas that need them most.

What I haven’t seen in any discussion on this topic is a straightforward, unbiased look at the relevant statistics associated with a travel ban. So here is what we are really talking about.

First of all, there is already a de facto ban due to the fact that there are no direct flights on U.S. carriers from the affected West African countries to the United States. However, travelers originating from those countries do arrive here via connections in other countries. The total is estimated to be about 150 per day.

The first (and only) infected West African to arrive in the U.S. was Thomas Eric Duncan. He was a Liberian who began his travel on September 19, without noticeable symptoms. He later became ill and eventually died in a Dallas hospital.

It’s difficult to pinpoint when the risk for Ebola-infected travelers began. So let’s just begin counting on the day that Duncan arrived in the U.S. From then it has been 28 days. With 150 travelers from the affected West African countries arriving every day for 28 days, there have been 4,200 people arriving here from the troubled region. And out of that 4,200 people there has been one – that’s ONE – who became ill with Ebola. That’s 0.0024% of the travelers from West Africa. And for that Republicans and wingnut pundits want to impose a total ban on travel that experts insist will make matters worse.

Three other people with Ebola (all Americans) came home to the U.S. for treatment. They all survived, and no one at any of the hospitals where they were treated became ill. The only transmissions (two so far) occurred at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital that treated Duncan.

Just thought you’d like to know.

Tea-Bola Infects The GOP: Symptoms Include Secession Obsession And California-itis

Today’s Republican Party is very, very sick. They are exhibiting symptoms of acute cognitive failure and an inability to distinguish fantasy from reality. This severe case of Tea-Bola is what accounts for their insistence that the federal government keep its hands off of Medicare; and their denial of Climate Change despite 97% of scientists affirming it; and their perception of a collapsing economy that has actually grown significantly.

The GOP, driven by its Tea Party caucus, is obsessed with repealing a health insurance reform plan that has resulted in lower costs and a substantial decrease in the number of uninsured Americans. They incessantly shout “Benghazi” as if they were suffering from a perverse form of Tourette’s Syndrome. And they want so badly to impeach President Obama that they have forgotten to establish any rationale for such a blatantly deranged legal overreach. Indeed, they are slipping away into wingnut delirium and there doesn’t seem to be any cure.

Tea-Bola

The latest manifestation of the right’s raving lunacy is illustrated in a poll conducted by Fox News (who is both suffering from, and spreading Tea-Bola). The Fox poll asked a question that reveals just how on target Jon Stewart was when he yelled at right-wing hypocrites, with exasperation, “Fuck you and your false patriotism.” The questions hinges on the notion of secession by one or more states. There have been several episodes of pseudo-patriotic Republicans articulating a desire for the United States to break apart, or for their state to secede. And now we have a survey that puts the matter into partisan perspective.

The poll asked: If your state were to hold an election on whether or not to split off from the United States, how would you vote? Democrats, at 4%, weren’t too keen on the idea, but three times as many Republicans (12%) favored it. However, it was the Tea Party that really lapped it up with 23% opting for secession. So much for American exceptionalism.

In another question, the divide was even more stark. The question asked was: Are there any states that you would vote out of the United States if you could? This wording is somewhat more hostile. It no longer wonders whether you would want to leave America yourself, but whether you would like kick out some other state. The party breakdown was: Democrats: 13%; Republicans: 21%; and a full third of the Tea Party contingent (34%) were firmly committed to banishing some other state from the land of the free.

The Tea Party’s favorite state to excommunicate is one that they frequently attack as a bastion of socialism and/or wacky secular heathens. To no one’s surprise it is California that was chosen by 83% of the Tea Party martinets of virtue. That’s six points higher than Republicans as a whole.

The incomparable idiocy of their blind hatred ignores the fact that California, by itself, accounts for about 13% of the nation’s GDP. If booted from the union it would become the sixth richest country in the world. It has all of the assets required to guarantee its ongoing prosperity, such as abundant natural resources; a diverse economy that includes agriculture, manufacturing, energy, technology, entertainment, and tourism; 800 miles of coastline and ports for access to the world’s trade routes; numerous defense plants and military installations; and an affluent population for its tax base. Let’s face, the U.S. needs California more than California needs the U.S.

If the GOP/Tea Party had its way they would end up with a much poorer America. California is a net positive contributor to the federal budget, getting back only 87 cents for every dollar paid in. Compare that to the Tea Party utopia of Mississippi where they mooch $2.47 for each dollar paid. And if the Teabaggers crusade extended to their second choice for banishment, New York, they would lose even more. New York is another prosperous (and Democratic) state that gets only 72 cents back on each dollar paid to the feds. The two-state combination of California and New York account for nearly a quarter (22%) of the entire nation’s GDP.

This display of stupidity extends to other questions in the Fox poll. For instance, when asked: How concerned are you that the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS will try to launch an attack on U.S. soil in the near future? Democrats had a reasonably healthy concern of 39%. Republicans were a bit more nervous with 59%. But the Tea Party are shivering in their bunkers with 76% consumed by the fear they’ve been fed by Fox News.

This may partially explain the serious diversion from reality that exists in the American electorate. The same poll shows that Obama’s approval rating is currently at 40%. That’s surprisingly low for a president who presided over the nation’s recovery from the worst financial calamity since the Great Depression; who disposed of Osama Bin Laden; and who signed the first major health insurance reform bill.

And yet Obama’s low rating is a drag on Democratic candidates in the upcoming midterm election. Polls show that many of the battleground states are perilously tight, with Republicans leading in some. But while Obama is riding around in the low forties, Republicans in Congress are floundering at 23%, almost half of Obama’s placing.

So why are voters considering casting their votes for Republicans whom they like much less than Obama and the Democrats? The answer is that the polling is counting “likely” voters. When a broader group of registered voters, or all eligible voters, are surveyed, the Democrats come out ahead. So the problem here is that Democrats are not considered likely to vote. That makes turnout for this year’s election the most critical objective. If Democrats vote in ratios comparable to Republicans, Democrats will win.

Of course, Republicans are doing everything they can to suppress voter turnout, and particularly to suppress Democratic turnout. They have been implementing voter ID laws that do nothing to prevent fraud, but are deliberately aimed at preventing Democrats from exercising their right to vote. Republicans are spending unprecedented sums on negative and dishonest advertising, largely bankrolled by the Koch brothers and other baldly partisan operatives.

The GOP/Tea Party wants very badly to block your ability to cast a vote. If you allow them to do that you are, in effect, aiding their cause. You are succumbing to their tactics. You are their bitch.

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It’s time to stand up for something positive, as opposed to the relentlessly negative harping of the right. A Republican senate is not a symbolic victory for the other side. It means that every chairman of every committee will be a Republican. It means a senate filled with Darrell Issas and Louis Gohmerts and Michelle Bachmanns deciding what legislation will be considered and what phony investigations will be pursued. It will put more power in the hands of Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. It will almost certainly result in an attempt to impeach the President.

But it doesn’t have to end that way. There are more of us than there are of them. All we have to do is vote. It isn’t that hard. You can register online in many states, and you can vote through the mail. Just fucking do it. Otherwise some toothless, tea-swilling, racist, moron will vote in your stead. The polls are all consistent. If we vote, we win. We can overwhelm their “likely” voter paradigm by simply showing up. And if we do, we beat back the Koch brothers, the GOP elitists, the Tea Party dimwits, and the cynical media that thinks YOU are too stupid to act in your own best interests.

As it turns out, voting is the cure for Tea-Bola.

Taking It To Eleven: “Principles For American Renewal” Is The GOP’s Latest Re-Branding Debacle

Shortly after President Obama won a resounding victory for reelection in 2012, the Republican National Committee stowed away to analyze what they did so terribly wrong that they lost an election they thought would be a cakewalk. They emerged with a document that they called an “autopsy” of the campaign that included their missteps and a prescription for future success.

Most of the recommendations revolved around improving messaging and outreach to voter blocs that are critical to any winning campaign: women, African-Americans, Latinos, seniors, and youth. The autopsy acknowledged that Republicans had a terrible image with these voters and the party would need to improve it significantly if they ever hoped to win again.

With their new mandate in hand, the GOP set out to ignore everything that it advised. Instead of reaching out to neglected voters, Republicans doubled down on alienating them. They pursued the same policies that drove voters away in the first place and continued to find new methods of garnering their distrust. For instance, they pushed for voter ID laws that disenfranchise minorities, seniors and students, in an effort to prevent election fraud that doesn’t exist. They also enacted laws that negatively impact reproductive health care for women, including forced vaginal probes and restricting access to birth control and cancer screenings. And supporting cops who murder unarmed black teenagers, while opposing care for immigrant children, doesn’t do much to polish their reputation in minority communities.

So what does the Republican Party do after they have abandoned their own solutions? They develop another set of solutions and try to peddle that to skeptical voters. The new program has a name straight out of propaganda 101: Principles For American Renewal. And so as not to be accused of just jotting down the same top ten list of pandering platitudes, the GOP PR team came up with eleven pandering platitudes. Let’s take a look at the GOP’s set of principles:

GOP Principles

  • CONSTITUTION: Our Constitution should be preserved, valued and honored.
    Except when it prohibits forced Christianity or enables same-sex marriage or doesn’t recognize that corporations are people.
  • ECONOMY: We need to start growing America’s economy instead of Washington’s economy so that working Americans see better wages and more opportunity.
    Unless that means raising the minimum wage or asking the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes or creating jobs in vital infrastructure rebuilding. And never mind that the past six years has seen record growth in corporate profits and reduction in unemployment.
  • BUDGET: We need to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, make government more efficient, and leave the next generation with opportunity, not debt.
    Even though balanced budgets are a ridiculous notion that no successful business would ever consider, and our current debt was the result of the Bush tax cuts and two off-the-books wars. And please forget that Obama has cut the deficit by more than half.
  • HEALTH CARE: We need to start over with real healthcare reform that puts patients and their doctors in charge, not unelected bureaucrats in Washington.
    Under ObamaCare patients and doctors are still in charge, not unelected insurance adjusters. It’s just that now people can afford insurance so they can see their doctors. By the way, where is that GOP health care plan (other than repealing ObamaCare)?
  • VETERANS: Our veterans have earned our respect and gratitude, and no veteran should have to wait in line for months or years just to see a doctor.
    But we’ll still vote against funding the V.A., even while we vote for new wars that create more veterans who need health care. Plus, we won’t help poor, homeless vets get housing or food.
  • SECURITY: Keeping America safe and strong requires a strong military, growing the economy, energy independence, and secure borders.
    And since each of these things has increased by leaps and bounds in the past six years, how does the GOP opposition to the policies that resulted in that progress help, and what are their alternatives? They don’t say.
  • EDUCATION: Every child should have an equal opportunity to get a great education; no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school.
    In other words, we will refuse to sufficiently fund public education and parents will have an equal opportunity to homeschool their kids or pay for private school if they can afford it.
  • POVERTY: The best anti-poverty program is a strong family and a good job, so our focus should be on getting people out of poverty by lifting up all people and helping them find work.
    And making them belong to the sort of families that we approve of, and working for wages that are insufficient to raise them out of poverty. And while they are trying to get back on their feet, the moochers will get no financial support or assistance with food or education.
  • VALUES: Our country should value the traditions of family, life, religious liberty, and hard work.
    Unless the family has two mommies, or the religion is not sanctioned by Pat Robertson, or the workers demand fair treatment and living wages.
  • ENERGY: We should make America energy independent by encouraging investment in domestic energy, lowering prices, and creating jobs at home.
    Unless that energy is produced by the sun or wind. And God forbid that we transition away from carbon-based fuels that pollute our air and water and exacerbate the disastrous effects of Climate Change.
  • IMMIGRATION: We need an immigration system that secures our borders, upholds the law, and boosts our economy.
    This policy seems to have left something out: Immigrants. It also ignores the reality that our society relies on immigration and is already benefiting from it.

The Republicans should be commended for coming up with the most vacant and substanceless list of “principles” ever devised. It studiously avoids taking a position on any issue or offering a specific policy that can be debated and enacted. In short, it declares that they are in favor of the Constitution and opposed to poverty. How courageous. in addition, it leaves out some important matters entirely, such as crime, the environment, campaign finance reform, and foreign policy.

It is telling that the GOP has delivered this heap of empty rhetoric just one month before the midterms. They are struggling to find a unified campaign theme that will nationalize the election. They once thought that ObamaCare would serve that function. In fact, just last February the RNC’s chairman, Reince Priebus, was so certain of that 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 then. Part of the reason for that may be that just about every metric for measuring the success of ObamaCare has surpassed expectations. Even Republican enrollees have reported being overwhelmingly satisfied. And thus we have the roll-out of yet another re-branding scheme that fails to recognize that the fundamental problems the party is experiencing are rooted in their policies, not their messaging. Here is a more accurate illustration of the Republican Party’s true brand:

GOP Rebranding

New Ad Campaign Attempts To Convince Voters That Republicans Are People

The modern advertising industry has developed unprecedented techniques to persuade, cajole, and seduce the American people into directed patterns of consumption and lifestyles. Our decisions about which cars to drive or sodas to drink are all influenced by a steady stream of commercial messaging nearly everywhere we go. But now the Republican Party has taken on a public relations task that dwarfs all other efforts at opinion-making. They boldly aim to convince the American people that Republicans are people too.

Republicans Are People

GOP media manipulator, Vinny Minchillo, is the mastermind of this crusade to remake the Republican image into one that embraces a human component. He tried to do the same thing a couple of years when for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Now Minchillo has created a website called “Republicans Are People Too.” and posted a video there to make a case for that dubious proposition (video also posted below). But the text accompanying the video conveys only a determination to whine about the plight of the poor, mistreated Republican. He moans that…

“It isn’t easy being a Republican these days. [...] We love political discourse. We encourage political discourse. But when did “Republican” become a dirty word?”

Perhaps the answer to that question is: When Republicans started calling Democrats fascists, communists, moochers, whores, traitors, and devils.

Minchillo’s video is a simple production that seeks to enumerate a series of “regular” folks that he labels with a the hashtag “IAmARepublican.” It is a fairly comprehensive list of average Americans who are not generally associated with the exclusivity, racism, and intolerance of the Republican Party. It is no wonder that the GOP is yearning to attract more of the type of people in the video, because it is a cross-section of the nation that represents its diversity, a word that makes the right tremble. The video consists of a parade of alleged party members and asks “Did you know Republicans…”

Drive Priuses, recycle, listen to Spotify, put together IKEA furniture, are white, black, Hispanic, Asian, read the New York Times, use Macs, are grandmas, daughters, moms, are left-handed, are doctors, welders, teachers, donate to charity, enjoy gourmet cooking, shop at Trader Joe’s, like dogs, and cats, have tattoos, have tattoos and beards, have feelings, are people who care.

The problem with the argument that Minchillo is making is that the people claiming to be Republicans in his video are not actually Republicans. And by that I don’t simply mean that those types of persons are not Republican, which on the whole they are not. I mean that those specific people in the video are not. In fact, they were photos taken from stock image suppliers. A search for a random selection of the photos in the video found many of them in the iStockPhoto website’s library of images. The persons in the paragraph above that are links will lead you to the stock image page for each one.

So the video produced in order to convince everyone that Republicans are real people is populated by fakes. They are models pretending to be the characters that the video claims represent actual members of the Republican Party. And that’s about as real as it gets for the GOP.

This would be a hilarious aside to the pathetic PR that is constantly pushed by right-wing propagandists. But it is actually just another rung in their ladder of deception. It is reminiscent of the effort by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to persuade voters that “We’re Not Stupid.” When you have to mount an advertising blitz to sell the public on the notion that you’re not stupid, you have already lost the battle. And the same thing goes for a campaign to assert your people-ness. If the public doesn’t already know that you’re people, good luck trying to convince them.

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Ben Carson Reveals Himself To Be A Delusional Conspiracy Theorist On Fox News Sunday

This weekend Fox News Sunday interviewed the Tea Party flavor of the week, Dr. Ben Carson. The interview (video below) was notable for some of the uncharacteristically clear-headed questions from host Chris Wallace that exposed Carson as the extremist nut case that he is.

Ben Carson

Wallace introduced the segment by noting that Carson has made some controversial remarks for which he will be held to account. That is an understatement, to say the least. Comparing ObamaCare to slavery, and America to Nazi Germany are not your conventional campaign slogans. Wallace even told Carson point blank that “I think you would agree that, at best, your a distinct long shot.” But the statement that Wallace singled out was when Carson warned that, somehow, the 2016 election would be canceled. It was a profoundly stupid notion without any rational foundation, which Wallace seemed to recognize when he asked his question.

Wallace: You said recently that you thought that there might not actually be elections in 2016 because of wide spread anarchy. Do really believe that?

Carson: Well, I hope that that’s not going to be the case, but certainly there is the potential because you have to recognize that we have a rapidly increasing national debt, a very unstable financial foundation, and you have all these things going on like the ISIS crisis, that could very rapidly change things that are going on in our nation. And unless we begin to deal with these things in a comprehensive way, and in a logical way, there is no telling what could happen in just the matter of a couple of years.

Huh? There is a potential that democracy will be dispensed with because of the national debt and ISIS? What in holy hell is he talking about? The United States and its democratic system has endured for over 200 years, through economic catastrophes, civil and world wars, Nixonian corruption, and assassinations. Yet Carson thinks that it may all soon be over because of our present economy (with it’s soaring stock market, record profits, and low unemployment), and a band of desert rats 8,000 miles away?

It is stunning that anyone would take this man seriously as a candidate for president. But the party that has previously placed at the top of their presidential wish list people like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, Rick Perry, and Sarah Palin, is just the party to hoist Carson’s flag. He recently placed a close second (after fellow Tea-publican Ted Cruz) in a straw poll by attendees of the right-wing, evangelical Values Voters conference.

For a party that vehemently castigated President Obama as lacking the necessary experience to be president when he launched his campaign, the Republicans have an intense infatuation for candidates with even less experience. Wallace also addressed this hypocrisy in the interview with a cleverly worded question.

Wallace: After looking at Barack Obama and what’s happened with his lack of political experience in the last six years, wouldn’t putting Ben Carson in the Oval Office be akin to putting a politician in an operating room and having him perform one of your brain surgeries?

Carson: I don’t think so. What is required for leadership is wisdom.

Indeed. And the wisdom demonstrated by a political neophyte who thinks that there may not be an election in 2016, but if there is it will be dominated by voters who “have been beaten into submission,” is exactly what the “doctor” ordered, if that doctor is Dr. Strangelove.

Even the Wall Street Journal noticed that the bizarre rantings of Carson were trouble for the GOP. Columnist Peter Wehner, who served in the past three Republican administrations, wrote that “This is the kind of rhetorical recklessness that convinces many Americans that Republican leaders are extreme, irresponsible, and fundamentally unserious.” [...and that...] “Dr. Carson’s comments are evidence of a political mind that is not simply undisciplined but also fanatical.” [...and that...] “Any political party or movement that is associated with such utterances will pay a price.”

Carson recently declared that the “likelihood is strong” that he will run for president, despite his having none of the requisite knowledge or skills for the job. His putative candidacy rests entirely on his support from Tea Party zealots and Fox News who, in breach of every code of journalistic ethics, continues to employ him as a commentator despite his admitted status as a candidate.

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Corruption With Impunity: The Imaginary Exoneration Of Chris Christie

Last week the Department of Justice gave a statement to NBC News regarding their investigation into New Jersey governor Chris Christie. The statement was an update on “Bridge-Gate,” the dangerous, unlawful, and politically motivated closure of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge orchestrated by his administration. It didn’t take long for NBC’s story to become widely misinterpreted by much of the conservative media. According to NBC News

“The U.S. Justice Department investigation into Gov. Chris Christie’s role in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal has thus far uncovered no evidence indicating that he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the span, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York.”

That statement formed the basis of a broad campaign to rehabilitate the sagging public image of Christie who is anticipated to be a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. Many pseudo-news enterprises published stories that described Christie as “vindicated,” “innocent” or “falsely accused.” Calls from right-wing media critics went out to insure that coverage of Christie’s alleged exoneration was equal to that which took place while the allegations were being investigated. There’s just one problem.

Chris Christie 2016

Christie has not been exonerated. The report by NBC News said only that no evidence had been uncovered “so far.” The feds explicitly stated that the investigation is ongoing and that no conclusion has been reached. What’s more, there is still an investigation being conducted by New Jersey state officials that is separate from the federal probe and involves different violations of law.

The Christie thumpers need to reserve their celebration until all of the pending investigations are concluded. That does not appear to be imminent. And even if Christie manages to squirm out of any finding of direct culpability, he still needs to answer for how so many of his senior staffers were involved in a sleazy, criminal conspiracy without his knowledge. Either he knew and has successfully covered it up, or he didn’t know and is an incompetent who can’t control his felonious underlings.

That’s not a great place from which to shape a presidential campaign. Your starting off with a significant disadvantage if you have to choose between these slogans: “Christie: He got away with it,” or “Christie: Because he don’t know nothin.”

The last shoe has yet to drop in this affair. These sort of political shenanigans often take some time to unwind as the players jockey for position in order to cop a plea and avoid the consequences of their shady behavior. It is way too soon for Christie to pop the Champagne corks. Likewise, it is too soon for his media boosters to begin writing his victory speech.

Make Up Your Damn Minds: Republican Waffling And Hypocrisy On Syria

While the media is obsessing over a new propaganda video released by the the ISIL terrorists, it is useful to note just how far the right-wing Republican Party has come in just one year with regard to the situation in Syria. And it can all be summed up by that profound foreign policy visionary from the land of frozen tundra, Sarah Palin:

Sarah Palin

Indeed, Palin’s evolution on this issue aligns perfectly with that of her party comrades. Last summer, most of the conservative mouthpieces were haranguing President Obama for articulating a plan to provide aid to moderate Syrian rebels in an effort to coerce Assad into abandoning his chemical weapons, which he used to massacre tens of thousands of his own people. For some reason, according to the right, that mass slaughter was not sufficient justification for the U.S. to launch a humanitarian response, but a couple of gruesome executions by media-savvy killers and that means war.

Despite the opposition, Obama’s strategy worked and Assad delivered his chemical arsenal to Western authorities and opened his facilities up for inspection. But that was not until after the President was savaged by Republicans who assailed him for not getting congressional approval, and then assailed him for asking congress to concur. Obama is in the unique position of having political foes who are saying, in effect, “Do what we say so we can attack you for doing what we said.”

Now the same GOP critics are insisting that Obama commit to all-out warfare with the same Syria that they previously thought we should keep at a distance. And true to form, they want him to demonstrate boldness by unilaterally launching an assault with combat troops, while simultaneously condemning him as an anti-constitutional tyrant if he tries to do that without the consent of Congress.

What I want to know is: How can they ride that out-of-control ideological merry-go-round without getting nauseous?

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Wingnuts Lament That Obama Delays An Executive Action On Immigration That They Oppose

This is how the Republican establishment came to be known as “wingnuts.” These right-wing nut cases are so befuddled by anti-Obama hysteria that they can’t seem to articulate a coherent thought. This isn’t demonstrated anywhere better than in the contentious immigration debate that has stripped naked the conservatives tendency for overt racism.

Wingnuts On Immigration

Yesterday Fox News correspondent Molly Henneberg took to the airwaves to report that the Obama administration has decided to delay an anticipated executive order to address the struggle of undocumented immigrants in the United States. It is an action that Republicans staunchly oppose as what they falsely deride as amnesty. In addition, they regard Obama’s use of executive orders as unconstitutional and are even suing him for issuing them.

However, with Obama’s decision to put off any action until after the November midterm elections, the GOP is trembling with outrage. In effect, they are infuriated because Obama isn’t breaking the law sooner by taking a step they bitterly oppose. To please these lunatics he would have to do the very things for which they are criticizing him, which wouldn’t please them at all. That’s checkmate in Bizarro World.

To be sure, the President’s decision to put off the policy is rooted in politics. Several Democratic senators in red-leaning states are worried that unilateral action by Obama would damage their reelection aspirations. But the President recognizes this and doesn’t shy away from it. He even acknowledges the political concerns in a forthright statement released by a White House spokesman:

“The reality the president has had to weigh is that we’re in the midst of the political season, and because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections.”

That demonstration of transparency is being met by Republican bombast and deception. Their whining about the delay is plainly based on their own political considerations, but they refuse to admit it. They are just as concerned about the same senatorial campaigns as the Democrats. But instead of being honest, as was the White House, they assume an indefensible posture demanding that the President do something that they adamantly oppose and regard as illegal.

The coverage of this circus by Fox News reeks with their well-known right-wing bias. Henneberg’s report places all of the blame for politicization on the Democrats, saying that…

“Some Democrats had been concerned that if the President took executive action on immigration that it might energize Republican voters who want tighter border security before citizenship for illegals right before the midterms.”

There is no mention in Henneberg’s report that Republicans are just as concerned that the delay might weaken their electoral challenges. Even worse, Henneberg outright lies about the substance of the planned executive order when she cites the GOP’s interest in “tighter border security” and the question of citizenship. She fails to note that Obama’s policy actually calls for the enhancement of border enforcement and that there is nothing remotely resembling citizenship in the works. That canard is standard fare by right-wing dissemblers and propagandists. As is the use of the pejorative term “illegals,” that most credible news organizations have ceased to use.

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For the record, the anticipated executive order is only expected to address the granting of work permits and temporary relief from deportation. That is a far cry from amnesty, and an even farther cry from citizenship. But it would relieve some of the stress caused by the situation; it would reunite families; and it help the economy by turning undocumented workers into taxpayers and contributing members of the community.

What’s more, Republicans always have the opportunity to avert any executive action by doing one simple thing: pass an immigration bill in Congress. The President is only considering unilateral action because Republicans in Congress refuse to do their job. And now they are exacerbating their laziness and rank politicization by making absurd demands that are contrary to their own stated principles. Hence wingnuts.

We Are NOT At War: The Right-Wing Obsession To Declare Their Delusions

What is it about the conservative mindset that needs to turn every contentious encounter into full scale warfare? It seems that no matter the subject, if there is some unresolved difference the affair must be escalated to combat mode. We see this with everything from the drug war, to the class war, to the annual lunacy of the War on Christmas.

The so-called “War on Terror” is just as ludicrous. It is impossible to declare war on a tactic, just as you cannot declare war on a group of narcotics or a feeling or the mole people who live beneath the Earth’s crust. Wars are carried out between nations that can be engaged militarily and concluded with definable resolutions. There is no opposing general who can surrender his sword at the end of a war on terror (or Christmas) and agree to conditions for peace.

Nevertheless, conservatives are insistent that war be waged on anything they dislike. They have a psychological predisposition that researchers have studied and documented. Some of these studies were discussed in an article on Salon by Paul Rosenberg who noted that…

“Conservative fears of nonexistent or overblown boogeymen — Saddam’s WMD, Shariah law, voter fraud, Obama’s radical anti-colonial mind-set, Benghazi, etc. — make it hard not to see conservatism’s prudent risk avoidance as having morphed into a state of near permanent paranoia, especially fueled by recurrent ‘moral panics,’ a sociological phenomenon in which a group of ‘social entrepreneurs’ whips up hysterical fears over a group of relatively powerless ‘folk devils’ who are supposedly threatening the whole social order.”

Today these right-wing paranoids are clamoring over whether President Obama should declare war on ISIL, a stateless assembly of militants who have no national identity or homeland. The notion that the United States should declare war on such a non-entity is absurd. That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a concerted and decisive response to the brutal hostility of these terrorists. But it isn’t war. The politicians and pundits who are fixated on such a declaration are merely consumed with surface-level theatrics and partisan politics.

As evidence of their rank partisanship, Republicans are citing the murders of two American journalists as the justification for declaring war. However, there have been a lot more Americans killed by terrorists before this without a demand for such a declaration. What makes this different? Is it the manner in which the victims were killed? Or is it the person in the White House at the time?

Selective Patriotism

There is a distinct difference between the reactions by Republicans to terrorist activity during the Obama administration and during the administration of his predecessor, George W. Bush. When Bush was in charge there were also a couple of Americans who died in the same fashion as James Foley and Steven Sotloff. They were Nick Berg and Paul Johnson [Edit: Also Daniel Pearl]. After they were killed Republicans insisted that the country must rally around the President and unite against the terrorist enemy.

However, today the right-wingers are anything but united. They castigate Obama as being weak and indecisive. They even blame him outright for the deaths of innocents. Yesterday, Fox News host Andrea Tantaros told Bill O’Reilly that Obama “has a world view that is very anti-American.” O’Reilly didn’t disagree. Clearly there is a selective component to what the right calls patriotism. If a Republican is at the helm during a catastrophe he must receive our unquestioning support in the struggle against our foes. But no such loyalty is afforded a Democratic president. To the contrary, he is belittled and insulted and demeaned in the face of the enemy who, ironically, hold the same view of him as Republicans do.

It is notable that all of this vitriol comes at a time when Obama has achieved some significant victories over the terrorists. His policy of conducting airstrikes has resulted in pushing back ISIL from many of the cities they had bragged about capturing. We have regained control of the Mosul dam in Iraq. We have killed the leader of the Somali terrorist group that was responsible for murdering dozens of people in a Nairobi mall. And today there are reports that we have terminated both the right-hand man to ISIL leader Al-Baghdadi and his chief explosives expert. All of this has occurred while conservatives have baselessly complained that Obama hasn’t been doing anything at all.

I’ve noted before that by denigrating the President at times like these it has the effect of emboldening the enemy by creating a false and dangerous impression of Obama as a weakling that they can easily overcome. It almost seems that that is their objective, so that a terrorist attack on U.S. soil will take place that they can blame on Obama. Whatever their purpose, it is plain that they apply one standard of judgment for Republicans and another dangerously negative one for Democrats. And above all they have resolved to put their cynical, dishonest politics ahead of the welfare of the country. And they call that patriotism.

(CR)ISIS Strategy: President Obama vs. Republicans And Fox News Pundits

Much is being made of an off-hand sentence fragment taken from President Obama’s press conference yesterday. In response to a question from Chuck Todd about whether he needed Congress’s approval to go into Syria, Obama said

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard.”

Clearly the President was trying to temper speculation in the media that has been rampant with predictions of a U.S. military assault on Syria. That is not the sort of thing that commanders want to be circulating prior to the launch of a mission. So Obama prudently dismissed the gossip and focused on presenting a united front that included the White House, the Pentagon, and Congress. However, conservative politicians and pundits have a different theory that has two primary principles:

  1. Giving away our tactics
  2. Disparaging our Commander-in-Chief.

ISIS Strategy

While the President is working to keep from showing our hand, those on the right are clamoring for him to spill every secret plot that is currently under consideration. They are outraged that Obama has not told the world, and ISIS, what our strategy is for dealing with ISIS in Syria. Certainly ISIS would like to know what we are planning, and Republicans are helping them in that effort.

An example this morning on the Fox News program Outnumbered had guest co-host Pete Hegseth, head of the Koch brothers front group Concerned Veterans for America, saying that “The number one rule in war is that if there is no strategy, don’t tell the enemy that.” Hegseth never mentioned what boneheaded rule book he was referring to, but it is one that contradicts the long-respected wisdom of Sun Tzu whose “The Art of War” advises to “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” In other words, it is strategically advantageous to fool your enemies into thinking that you have no strategy. To announce your strategy would only allow them to reinforce their defenses against it.

After advocating divulging our plans, the right goes on to tell our enemies that they have little to worry about because our leadership is incompetent and may even be on their side. For some reason they think that it’s helpful to let ISIS know that some of Obama’s own countrymen have no confidence in him. Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle fantasized about having Vladimir Putin as president for forty-eight hours instead of Obama because, I guess, brutal dictators are always preferable in the eyes of the right. Perhaps they are preparing for 2016:

Putin/Palin 2016

GOP representative Louie Gohmert made an ass of himself (again) by likening Obama to Barney Fife, the bumbling deputy on the old Andy Griffith Show. The problem with that analogy is that Gohmert and the right are more like Fife than Obama. Remember that Fife was the hothead who was constantly itching for a fight and the opportunity to put his one bullet in his pistol. He couldn’t wait to confront the bad guys with deadly force whether or not a real threat existed. Doesn’t that sound like Bush’s adventures in Iraq, and what conservatives are doing right now? Certainly the right wouldn’t approve of Andy Griffith’s Sheriff Taylor, who was well known for being deliberative and resolving problems with diplomacy and intellect. Kind of like President Obama. In fact, Sheriff Taylor was so notorious for his resistance to unnecessary conflict that one episode featured a story line where Mayberry’s Sheriff was wooed by producers from Hollywood to make a movie titled “Sheriff Without A Gun.”

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But the problem that the wingnuts are causing is far more serious than asinine analogies. Their criticisms have the dual risk of pressuring the President to divulge sensitive military plans, and emboldening the enemy by creating a false and dangerous impression of Obama as a weakling that they can easily overcome. How is that an expression of patriotism? Let’s face it, the right is more concerned with demonizing the President than they are with defeating ISIS, or with the welfare of our troops, or with national security in general. They are even more concerned with the color of his suit or whether he wears a tie. Gawd bless Amurca.

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

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

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

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

Mitch McConnell / Koch Brothers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is This Ad For A GOP Senate Candidate The Worst Political Ad This Year?

The 2014 election cycle has produced some pretty horrific advertisements including Iowa Republican Joni Ernst’s tales of castrating hogs, the Club for Growth’s anti-Pryor (D-AR) ad featuring a pooping parrot, and even a Republican primary opponent of John Boehenr who crafted an “electile dysfunction” themed ad that said “If you have a Boehner lasting more than 21 years, seek immediate medical attention.” That one was actually pretty funny.

Now we have New Mexico Republican Allen Weh’s ad against incumbent Democratic senator Tom Udall (video below). Weh, the former chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, has the distinction of being the first candidate grotesque enough to feature the ISIS executioner of American journalist Jim Foley in a campaign ad. However, sitting through the whole ad will reveal that Weh also includes a second shot of another execution before arriving at what must be his campaign theme: associating Sen. Udall himself with ISIS.

Allen Weh / Tom Udall

The visual message of compositing Udall’s face with an ISIS flag is a not-so-subtle implication that Udall is aligned with America’s enemies. And this is no accident. These ads are edited second-by-second to pack the entirety of the message into short clips. Weh’s operatives knew exactly what they were doing.

The audio on the ad is comprised almost entirely of a snippet from an Obama interview conducted before he was a candidate for president, and another repeated snippet of Udall saying “I know, as far as I feel, this diplomatic path that we’re on right now is a good one.” Udall’s comment was not sourced, but it turns it that it came from an interview on September 11, 2013 on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper. It was also not place in context.

Weh’s ad sought to associate Udall with both ISIS and Obama, creating an ancillary connection between ISIS and Obama as well. However, Udall was responding to Tapper’s question about the speech Obama gave on September 10, 2013 regarding Syria’s chemical weapons. The President spoke about his determination to force Syria to abandon their chemical arsenal, his initial intention to seek authorization from Congress, and his ultimate decision to let the diplomatic efforts run their course.

“Over the last few days, we’ve seen some encouraging signs. In part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action, as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin, the Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons. The Assad regime has now admitted that it has these weapons, and even said they’d join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits their use.

“It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies. I have, therefore, asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path.”

In context, Udall’s comments were in support of a process that eventually succeeded in collecting and neutralizing Syria’s chemical warfare capability that was already responsible for killing thousands of Syrians, including hundreds of children.

So Weh’s ad completely misrepresented Udall’s words, but the worst part was its blatant and nauseating exploitation of Foley, a victim of terrorist brutality less than a week ago. And compounding that repulsiveness, Weh plastered the flag of Foley’s murderers on Udall’s face. If there is an award for reprehensible defamation in political advertising, Weh is currently the runaway winner this year – so far.

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Operation No Name – Or Whatever Obama Does Is Wrong: The ISIS Edition

Conservative critics of President Obama wasted no time in complaining about what they said was his failure to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq where thousands of refugees are trapped on a mountain by ISIS militants. Never mind that only a few days had transpired since learning of the impending tragedy, the armchair generals in Congress and on Fox News had fully assessed the situation and were ready to fly off the handle.

The Senate’s preeminent news video hog, John McCain, blasted the administration for taking “no discernible action.” GOP Rep. Chris Smith said that “The president’s indifference is both numbing and enabling.” His colleague Frank Wolf joined in saying that “The administration has done nothing.” It was a steady chorus of complaints from the Republican caucus. That is, until Obama took decisive action within a few hours of the GOP outcry. From that point on the wingnuts criticized the President for doing something.

Among the complaints by the perennial war hawks are that Obama screwed up by removing American troops from Iraq in 2011 (which was actually Bush’s timetable); that Obama failed to secure a “status of forces” agreement (which actually Bush failed to secure); that Obama didn’t immediately strike ISIS when it first began its campaign, and generally that Obama has been detached, distracted, and even hostile to American interests. In short, the right blames Obama for everything that can possibily go wrong. They blame him for the acts of terrorists (rather than, you know, the terrorists). They blame him for doing what the American people want (which is to keep American ground troops out of Iraq). They blame him for Al Qaeda, for ebola, and for ants at picnics.

And the latest crackpot criticism of Obama is that his Defense Department has not assigned a name to the mission currently in progress. Seriously. There is no name. IMPEACH!

Fox News

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What could the President be thinking by failing to execute this critical function of his role as Commander-in-Chief? It is an insult to the soldiers risking their lives in defense of the American Dream that they don’t have a title to which they can refer. How can they be expected to fulfill their mission if they don’t know what to call it? If the President doesn’t correct this atrocious oversight expeditiously he will go down in history as a traitor to his nation.

There is another possibility that may have escaped the notice of the brilliant war strategists on the right. Perhaps Obama has named the mission “No Name.” This would be an ingenious tactic to confuse the enemy. They would never be able to respond to a ghostly maneuver that they couldn’t identify with a label. Operation No Name may be the shrewdest military gambit in modern times. And it may have been inspired by a uniquely patriotic piece of our cultural history:

I’ve Been Through The Desert On A Horse/Mission With No Name – by America!

It would nice if once – just once – Republicans and Fox News could find something positive in something President Obama does. Their unbroken record of outrage, whatever the issue, only marks them as tunnel-blind extremists who lack the ability to independently assess anything. And if nothing else it proves that their opinions are wholly unworthy of serious consideration.

War On Whites? What This Has In Common With All The Other Fox News “Wars”

Yesterday Mo Brooks, an Alabama Tea Party Republican congressman, caused a stir with his remarks to conservative radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham. Brooks was in a frenzy over a statement made by the National Journal’s Ron Fournier on Fox News Sunday. Fournier made this utterly uncontroversial observation about political demographics:

“The fastest growing bloc in this country thinks the Republican Party hates them. This party, your party, cannot be the party of the future beyond November, if you’re seen as the party of white people.”

That opinion was such an accepted part of reality that it was even validated last year by Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, in his infamous “autopsy” of the GOP’s humiliating defeat in the 2012 elections. Priebus wrote…

“The Republican Party must focus its efforts to earn new supporters and voters in the following demographic communities: Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Indian Americans, Native Americans, women, and youth. This priority needs to be a continual effort that affects every facet of our Party’s activities, including our messaging, strategy, outreach, and budget. Unless the RNC gets serious about tackling this problem, we will lose future elections; the data demonstrates this.”

Nevertheless, Brooks took umbrage in a way that further illustrates how out-of-touch the Republican regulars are on matters of race. His commentary on the Ingraham broadcast was both ignorant and offensive:

“This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It’s a part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things.”

That’s right. Brooks believes that Democrats are waging a war on whites. There is so much wrong with that statement that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the fact that it is a common refrain of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations. Brooks should be aware that aligning himself with that sort of philosophy has consequences.

Mo Brooks

On a more substantive level, Brooks is demonstrating that he doesn’t understand the issue in the slightest. Democrats have never claimed that “whites hate everybody else.” What some have claimed is that white Republicans pursue an agenda that is overtly hostile to the interests of minorities, women, youth, the poor, and other disenfranchised citizens. And his statement of solidarity with the imaginary oppressed white folk is further evidence of that. But that didn’t stop him from holding steadfastly to his insulting and idiotic remarks the next day:

“Certainly if you were to flip the coin and a white person were to say vote for me because I’m white, it would be an uproar and deservedly so. So why do we allow blacks to say vote for me because I’m black or Hispanics vote for me because I’m Hispanic?”

One question for Mr. Brooks: Can you cite any black or Hispanic candidate who ever said “vote for me because” I’m black or Hispanic? If not, your argument is a blatant misrepresentation of the minority electorate, which is just another kind of racism. It was your intent to pejoratively characterize minorities as being mindless sheep who are incapable of analytical thought and will, thus, base their decisions solely on skin color.

It is notable that all of the trumped up “wars” that Fox News features so often, have something very similar that connects them. Fox has hyped the “War on Christmas,” the “War on Oil/Coal,” the “War on Business,” the “War on Marriage,” the “War on Men,” and the ever-present “Class War.” [Jon Stewart cataloged another dozen or so Fox News wars] In every case the beleaguered victims of the battle are those who are distinctly at the top of the social order. They are either the majority, or the wealthy, or the powerful, or some combination of two or more of these privileged classes.

Fox News is predictably hostile to society’s underdogs, and just as predictably roots for the “over” dogs who don’t need any help. But that has been the mission of Fox News since its inception. And it is intertwined inseparably with the mission of the Republican Party. Which is why Brooks gets away with undisguised bigotry without either his party or Fox News taking him to task.

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IT’S OFFICIAL! The GOP Has Lost What’s Left Of Its Twisted Mind

Strolling through the muddy swamps of right-wing media often results in stumbling upon absurd allegations by disturbed wingnuts whose hatred for President Obama and liberal politics overcomes their grasp of reality. But this may be one of the best examples of outright delusion on the part of conservatives whose sanity has never been particularly stable.

Fox Nation

The Fox News community website, Fox Nation (whose rap sheet of brazen lies is a mile long) posted an article they regurgitated from the ultra-rightist, “Moonie” Washington Times. The headline is a mind-bogglingly ludicrous declaration that accuses Obama of being preoccupied with lawsuits: “The Obama Way: Litigation Not Leadership.”

SERIOUSLY? This is coming from one of the most prominent media mouthpieces for the Republican Party which, as we all know, just approved a resolution to sue the President – a lawsuit challenging his delay of an ObamaCare component that the GOP actually wants to delay. Talk about your frivolous lawsuits.

The article was written for the Washington Times by Thomas DelBeccaro, former chairman of the California Republican Party. It is a jumble of incoherence that never bothers to validate its premise. There is not a single example of Obama engaging in litigation that he or his administration initiated. Instead, DelBeccaro bleats interminably about how Obama has had to govern without the “benefit” of consensus with the unreasonable right.

DelBeccaro lists a number of examples of legislative division that range from the budget, to ObamaCare, to the environment, to trials of terrorists. But in every example the only thing that DelBeccaro succeeds in proving is that Republicans have been marching in lock-step to obstruct anything this administration has sought to accomplish. DelBeccaro wrote that…

“In fact, since becoming President, Mr. Obama has not undertaken a single effort at building consensus. Not one. For all the claims of partisanship made about President George W. Bush, Mr. Obama’s immediate predecessor, for better or for worse, Mr. Bush had bipartisan support in several key legislative victories. Mr. Bush had Senator Edward Kennedy support one of his bills, The No Child Left Behind Act, and Senator Bernie Sanders support another, Medicare Part D.”

Can DelBeccaro be so obtuse that he doesn’t even realize that he is making a case against his own party’s willingness to compromise? Indeed, Bush had Kennedy and Sanders (two of the Senate’s most liberal members) and numerous other Democrats who respected their roles as representatives of the people and were determined to work on their behalf, even in difficult circumstances. Who does Obama have? Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, Darrell Issa, Michele Bachmann, and a party that is dead set on impeaching him, despite the absence of any legal grounds for doing so.

As for Obama undertaking efforts at building consensus, how could he have been more of a consensus builder than by having adopted long-held Republican policies on the most prominent items in his agenda? DelBeccaro mentions ObamaCare, which was taken nearly in total from the GOP/Heritage Foundation insurance reform that Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts. He also mentions the Environmental Protection Agency, whose efforts to put in place the Republican-created Cap and Trade plan was derailed by Republicans. On the budget Obama wanted to allow the Bush tax cuts for the rich to sunset (as Bush’s bill originally mandated), but in a concession to the GOP he agreed to a compromise that drew a line at those with income over $400,000.

The evidence is clear that, contrary to DelBeccaro’s ignorant assertion that “Obama has not undertaken a single effort at building consensus,” the only thing Obama has done is compromise. That has resulted in half-way measures on a variety of issues that might have produced even better results, but for the GOP obstructionism. For instance, we might have a more robust economy, and lower unemployment, with federal dollars financing the rebuilding our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges. We might have a higher minimum wage that would lift millions out of poverty and shrink the expenditures on welfare programs. We might be more energy independent with greater access to renewable sources of energy that don’t destroy the environment – which creates massive, avoidable costs as well.

Nevertheless, DelBeccaro’s column accuses Obama of being overly litigious, without offering a single example of it. And they seem oblivious to the fact that it is the right that has been suing at every opportunity over ObamaCare, or marriage equality, or voter suppression, and culminating with their unprecedented lawsuit by the GOP-run House of Representatives.

So of course the Fox Nationalists post this hopelessly confused diatribe at the very top of their page as if it were worthy of prideful recognition. They seriously seem to have abandoned all reason in favor of projecting their own psychoses unto their ideological foes. Just as they ranted about impeachment for years and then flipped to accuse Democrats of inventing the issue, they have also obstructed the workings of government for years, even suing their opponents, and now they are claiming that Obama is the litigious one.

Is anyone buying this idiocy? Well, anyone other than Fox News viewers, Sarah Palin groupies, and the frightened cave-dwellers hugging their guns and gold and praying for the Apocalypse?

How Inept Is This Republican Congress? More Inept Than You Ever Imagined

If it seems to you that that President Obama has been under an investigative microscope since the moment he took office, it’s only because that’s pretty much true. Republicans were determined to foil anything positive that this president placed on his agenda, and their primary method of achieving that end has been perpetual investigations of trumped up scandals.

Benghazi

But even with their single-minded devotion to destroying this presidency, the House GOP has not produce any evidence of wrongdoing that implicated the White House. Of course, if their purpose was merely to keep the nation from enjoying the benefits of a productive government, Republicans can claim some success. They have certainly obstructed the creation of millions of jobs; progress on environmental protection; reforms of health care and immigration and tax policies; and numerous other initiatives that might have advanced the country’s well being. But any actual manifestations of scandal have been nonexistent.

To illustrate the level of incompetence attributable to these Tea Party hacks, it is useful to put their job performance into historical perspective. One way to do this is to compare their progress with that of prior congressional sessions working on similarly lofty projects. And since there has been so much talk of impeachment of late, it seemed like that would make a good model for comparison.

So get this: From the date that the U.S. Senate voted to establish a select committee to investigate Watergate, until the resignation of President Nixon, it took about 15 months. To reiterate, that’s from the date that the committee was approved, through the maze of contested hearings, the presentation of evidence, the White House defense, and all the way through the conclusion with a disgraced (and obviously guilty) president stepping down, only a little more than a year transpired.

Compare that the the current House Committee on Oversight’s investigation of whether the IRS discriminated against conservative organizations. Those hearings began 16 months ago. So they have already exceeded the time allotted to impeaching Nixon. However, there has not been a single shred of incriminating evidence uncovered. Plus, if you count from the time the Ways and Means Committee began their inquiries, it has been over 38 months. And these hearings are still continuing.

Let’s also compare the House hearings on Fast and Furious, the botched gun trafficking sting that actually began in the Bush Administration. But limiting this to just the Obama era, Congress has been investigating this since June 2011 – 38 months and counting. And nothing of substance has come from it.

The granddaddy of the Obama era pseudo-scandals has to be Benghazi. Over at Fox News they are suffering from a rare form of Benghazi Tourettes, spitting out the word every few seconds for no apparent reason other than to stir up their dimwitted viewers. So far, the congressional investigations into this have been ongoing for 23 months, with nothing to show for it. And on this issue they have been the most insistent that there is a correlation to Watergate. In fact, the Watergate angle has been an obsession that they tie to their wet dreams of impeachment.

Even the impeach-happy congress of the Clinton era took far less time to conduct hearings and actually try the President for high crimes and misdemeanors, than it has taken for any of the current Congress to even find a crumb of presidential misbehavior. From the inception of the House proceedings to impeach Clinton, until his acquittal in the Senate, it took all of four and a half months. If you count from the date that the Drudge Report posted its tabloid article identifying the Monica Lewinsky affair, it was still only 13 months.

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To sum up, every one of the current phony scandals, that are wastefully consuming time and taxpayer dollars, are exceeding that spent on the Nixon and Clinton impeachments. And none of these scandals have produced any hint of wrongdoing. That’s fairly conclusive proof that the Republicans serving in Congress now are profoundly incompetent. There are really only three possible explanations for this. Either 1) There is no evidence and they are wasting everyone’s time, or 2) There is evidence, but these blockheads are too stupid to stumble over it, or 3) They don’t give a damn about evidence, they are only trying to smear the President.

Either way, they need to be relieved of their duties at the earliest opportunity, which would be this November. That makes it the responsibility of American voters to step up and do their duty. All you have to do is vote. And rest assured, if you do not, this GOP idiocy will continue for the next two years and will likely be escalated into a full-blown impeachment of Obama. For God’s sake, don’t let that happen.

So F**king What? Former IRS Official Says That GOP Crazies Are…CRAZY!

Republicans and their friends at Fox News have mastered the art of building mountains of bullshit from the lowliest troll-hills. It’s one of their favorite tactics to malign Democrats. Just grab a sentence fragment from a long speech and pretend that it is the whole of the comment from which it was extracted. Then feign outrage that such an awful remark could have been uttered.

GOP Crazy

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The latest example of this rhetorical deceit was demonstrated when the GOP chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dave Camp, unscrupulously and selectively released some emails purported to be from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official who has been hounded by malevolent cretins like Rep. Darrell Issa in an attempt to fabricate ammunition to use against President Obama. Despite hundreds of wasted hours (costing millions of taxpayer dollars) engaged in hyper-partisan investigations, the Republican Inquisition has produced nothing implicating the President in any untoward activity.

The emails that Camp is now crowing about are just as meaningless as all of the other bogus “smoking guns” that these wingnuts have claimed would topple the administration. The headline that Camp has wrenched from the documents is that Lerner may have referred to certain individuals as “crazies” or “a-holes.” And, of course, this would only be an atrocity if those individuals were Republicans. Suffice to say that Camp wouldn’t give a Fig Newton if they were Democrats.

As Camp characterized this affair, Lerner was allegedly caught red-handed expressing her disgust for Republicans. And as the person at the center of the controversy over whether the IRS improperly subjected Tea Party groups to extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status, Camp believes that these emails prove that she was biased. Consequently, Camp regards the emails as justification for appointing a special prosecutor and escalating the legal assault on Lerner and, ultimately, the White House.

There’s just one problem. The emails don’t don’t say what Camp alleges they say. And even if they did it wouldn’t mean anything. Most people in government have personal opinions and allegiances. There isn’t anything wrong with that, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the fair execution of their duties. And the evidence shows that Lerner’s department scrutinized applications of all political persuasions. The only organization that was denied tax-exempt status during the time in question was a liberal group.

As for the emails, Camp’s assertion that Lerner had expressed a general bias against Republicans is false. And by focusing narrowly on the use of specific pejorative language he is being deliberately dishonest. She did say that there are crazies and a-holes, but she was clearly referring to a far-right fringe, not the rank and file GOP. The person with whom she was corresponding was not identified. [Update: The person has now been identified as Lerner's husband. This makes the whole thing even less controversial] Here is a transcript (complete with typos) of the email exchange beginning with Lerner describing a conversation she overheard of women in England where she was visiting.

Lerner: Overheard some ladies talking about American today. According to them we’ve bankrupted ourselves and at through. We’ll never be able to pay off our debt and are going down the tubes. They don’t seem to see that they can’t afford to keep up their welfare state either.
Unknown: Well, you should hear the whacko wing of the GOP. The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end. The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.
Lerner: Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many a-holes.
Unknown: And I’m talking about the hosts of the shows. The callers are rabid.
Lerner: So we don’t need to worry about alien teRrorists. It’s our own crazies that will take us down.

So we start off with Lerner actually defending America and taking a rather conservative view of the national debt, while noting the hypocrisy of the English women who were criticizing the U.S., but ignoring similar issues with their own economy. Then the other person brought up the matter of the “whacko wing of the GOP,” who hold apocalyptic views of America’s imminent demise. It is those nut cases that Lerner referred to as a-holes and crazies. And that is, quite clearly, what they are.

In the end, Camp and his …er… camp, are really complaining that Lerner called crazy people crazy. But when put in context, she absolutely did not direct those remarks to Republicans at large. It is Camp who is extrapolating the whackoness to include all Republicans. And if that’s his view of his party, well, that’s his problem.

WTF? GOP Balks At Honoring Pope Francis Because He “Sound[s] Like Obama”

The Centers for Disease Control may want to get involved soon because the epidemic of Obama Derangement Syndrome is spreading unchecked in the halls of Congress. A draft resolution to honor Pope Francis, authored by Republican Peter King and Democrat John Larson, has been stalled by an acutely myopic band of GOP obstructionists.

Pope Francis

H.Res.440 seeks to recognize Pope Francis for “his humility, his commitment to economic justice and improving the lives of the poor, and his outreach to individuals from all walks of life.” Those surprisingly non-controversial reasons for honoring the new Pontiff has the Tea Party Republican caucus steeping in anger and refusing to join the tribute. According to a GOP source who spoke to The Hill, the alleged reason for their disrespectful non-participation is that…

“Some Republicans believe the pope is ‘sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged,’ the GOP official said.”

OMG! The head of the Catholic church has debased Christianity by daring to discuss equality and empathy for the poor. Certainly Jesus would never have done anything like that. And to the extent that President Obama has articulated the same philosophy, the Pope is obviously aligned with his Marxist agenda.

That’s why, of the 221 co-sponsors of the bill (more than enough to insure passage), only 19 are Republicans. But at this point, GOP Speaker John Boehner has refused to bring it up for a vote. The Hill’s source also complained that Francis is “too liberal,” as demonstrated by his distaste for the harmful effects of unbound free markets and his tolerance for civil unions.

To be sure, Pope Francis has shown himself to be a devoted advocate for the disadvantaged of the world. He has made headlines for his willingness to humble himself before those he serves in profound ceremonial gestures like washing the feet of the poor, including women, and embracing the sick. In an official Vatican “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), The Pope went into stark detail about the greater harm of the greed and power associated with world markets and unfettered capitalism. Some of the more illuminating excerpts include…

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”

“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

“In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market.”

“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.”

No wonder the Republicans view this Pope as the reincarnation of Karl Marx. And this isn’t the first time that Francis has been disparaged with an association to our president. Last December News Corpse reported on a story on Fox News that declared that “Pope Francis is the Catholic Church’s Obama – God help us.” The story warned that the popular new Pope is already headed in the wrong direction and that “just as President Obama has been a disappointment for America, Pope Francis will prove a disaster for the Catholic Church.” That was a rather remarkable insult coming from a network whose roster is heavily dominated by Roman-Catholics.

And that’s not all. Rush Limbaugh said that “If it weren’t for capitalism, I don’t know where the Catholic church would be. This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope.” Sarah Palin complained about his “liberal statements.” Glenn Beck, although not referring directly to the Pope, begged his disciples to “run as fast as you can” from any church that uses the words “social justice,” which, of course, are the very words the Pope used.

However, no one should be surprised by the overt hypocrisy that runs rampant through the ranks of America’s right-wing. They have never been particularly pious except when it justifies their political bias. To them Catholic teachings are only meant to be followed so long as they are in harmony with Republican doctrine. And often, they are not. But Pope Francis had something to say about this as well:

“Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good. [...] I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!. It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare.”

As far as Republicans are concerned, that was a campaign ad for the Democratic Party.

Amid Reckless Talk Of Impeachment, Fox News Questions President Obama’s Loyalty

It’s taken four years, but the least productive Congress in recent history has finally found something they consider worthy of their time: Impeachment. The Tea Party Republicans running the House of Representatives have managed to avoid or deliberately obstruct everything from tax reform to job creation to immigration to climate change, and much more. In place of doing their actual jobs they have repeatedly attempted to cripple or repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), deny women access to reproductive care, legislate their conservative flavor of religion, and conduct endless and unwarranted investigations into a slew of phony scandals.

The GOP has had help in their avoidance of their responsibilities. Fox News has been right beside them in diverting attention and tax dollars from useful services to wasteful partisan exercises. Specifically with regard to the Impeachment issue, it was a Fox News regular, Sarah Palin, who fired the most recent volleys.

Now Fox is setting its sights on bolstering the impeachment argument by orchestrating a campaign of propaganda to characterize President Obama as disloyal to the country. And they aren’t mincing words about it.

Fox News

On their lie-riddled community website, Fox Nation, there are currently two articles that raise questions with regard to Obama’s patriotism. They overtly suggest that the President may be rooting for our enemies, including violent terrorists.

One article, with a headline that asserts that “Obama Needs to Choose Sides – Israel or Hamas,” blatantly accuses Obama of potentially being on the side of Hamas terrorists. It’s author, Todd Starnes of Fox News, responds to the FAA’s temporary ban on flights to Israel (which has already been lifted) by accusing Obama of implementing an economic boycott against Israel. Starnes says that “There have been no such flight bans over other war-torn nations. So why Israel?” However, in addition to defaming Obama, Starnes is demonstrating his ignorance of world affairs because there are other flight bans, including two hot spots in the news recently, Ukraine and Mali.

The second article’s headline asks “Whose Side is the President Really on?” Again, the Fox Nationalists are implying that Obama is not on the side of the nation he leads. This article concerns the immigration crisis on the southwestern border, and its right-wing author, Ed Rogers of the Washington Post, writes that “It is not hard to believe the president has a bias on the side of the foreigners.” Although it may not be hard for Rogers to believe it, he offers little of substance to support his theory. It appears to based solely on the administrations efforts to resolve the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Ironically, it is over the immigration issue that the GOP Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has chosen to respond to a White House comment regarding the GOP impeachment fixation. Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer is properly concerned that the extremists in the GOP are serious about trying to remove Obama from office. He told reporters that Republican talk of impeachment should not be summarily dismissed:

“I think a lot of people in this town laugh that off. I would not discount that possibility. I think that Speaker Boehner, by going down this path of this lawsuit, has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future.”

Boehner’s office responded in a painfully twisted manner that criticized Pfeiffer for reacting to the impeachment talk that Republicans began. Boehner’s spokesman lamented that the White House “is focused on political games, rather than helping these kids and securing the border.” That comment begs the question: Has Boehner lost touch with reality? It is the administration that is trying to resolve the border crisis but, as usual, Boehner’s comrades in Congress are refusing to cooperate on passing the necessary legislation.

What’s more, it is Boehner himself who is playing political games with his ludicrous lawsuit against the President. Remember, this is a lawsuit by a party with a long history of opposing frivolous lawsuits. They are also known for opposing regulations that burden small business. So, of course, they are now filing a frivolous suit against the President for easing regulations on small business. And then Boehner complains about political game-playing.

Pfeiffer, the White House adviser, is quite correct to worry about impeachment. The Republican Party is so thoroughly demented and/or corrupt that they may just be crazy enough to try it. For that reason, it is critical that Democrats wake up and make a commitment to vote in November. Democrats have been notoriously absent during midterm elections. But this time they must recognize that the President is on the ballot just as surely as he was in 2008 and 2012.

If anyone should be impeached it’s Fox News. They spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, disparaging America and its elected representatives. They tear the country down and call it weak and its people stupid. They practically invite enemies to attack us. What’s more disloyal than that? And if their disinformation helps Republicans seize control of the Senate it will empower the House GOP to draft Articles of Impeachment. And while they will still undoubtedly fail in the end, they will detour the nation from doing any of the important work that needs to be done to revive the nation’s economy, create jobs, and restore our reputation throughout the world.

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?

Shameless self-promotion…
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