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

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

Obama Refused

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama: We Were Once Strangers Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benghazi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

obamacare-conservatives-lie

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

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

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

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Fox News

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

Fox Nation Obsession

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

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

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

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

Election Turnout 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Obama Bitching: The GOP’s Empty Mandate Of 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama/Congress Approval

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rand Paul States The Obvious: The Republican Party Brand Sucks

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

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

Rand Paul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fox News Voter Fraud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The GOP/Tea Party Post-Midterm Agenda: Impeach Obama

With a little more than one week until election day the Republican Party is still lacking any affirmative plan for how they will govern should they assume total control of Congress. They have no economic plan, no foreign policy, no terrorism response, no reforms for immigration, and certainly no programs to address climate change which they don’t believe exists. The whole of their political ideology is a negative fixation that rests on their blinding contempt for President Obama.

Mars Impeaches

Last summer GOP House Speaker John Boehner made a splashy announcement of his scheme to sue the President for having issued an executive order delaying the implementation of a component of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Never mind that Republicans usually oppose frivolous lawsuits and that the ObamaCare measure being delayed was one that Republicans also wanted to postpone, the lawsuit was heralded as a blow for righteousness and justice.

In truth, the lawsuit was a bone being thrown to the Tea Party who had been clamoring for impeachment. Boehner was seeking to pacify the drooling Teabaggers with a scaled back distraction. And now Politico is reporting that the lawsuit that garnered so much excitement has failed to materialize. There has been no progress made on its filing and it is not expected to proceed until sometime after the midterm election. No one even knows what the complaint will consist of. When asked back in June, Boehner responded “When I make that decision, I’ll let you know.” He still hasn’t made that decision.

Speculation by insiders is that the lawsuit has been benched because it might have have fired up Democrats to mobilize in advance of the election and to increase donations and turnout. So the motivations on the part of the GOP are purely political and not tied to any principles. What’s more, it’s confirmation that they intend to resume their litigation as soon as the election is no longer part of the mix.

Therefore, it is not implausible to assume that the fringe-right will also return to their wet dream fantasies of an Obama impeachment as well. With so many Republican operatives having expressed their interest in it, they are very likely to still harbor a desire to proceed. The Boehner lawsuit is a sort of legal appetizer before the main course. And since the issues that were previously discussed as the reasons for the lawsuit may be moot by the time they file (if ever), the only option left for the Obama-haters will be impeachment.

Shameless self-promotion…
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Without the promise of the lawsuit to look forward to, the Tea Party will demand that they be given satisfaction. The Republican honchos know that they can’t win an election if the Teabaggers bolt. A recent Gallup poll asked voters to describe their motivation to vote in this election. Seventy-three percent of Tea Partiers responded that they were extremely/very motivated. Contrast that with other Republicans at 57%, and non-Republicans at 42% and you can see why the party is worried. You can also see why the party would be inclined to proceed with the impeachment demands of their right flank. Particularly after the much ballyhooed lawsuit fizzles.

In reality, the Tea Party is not as big a factor in national politics as the establishment Republicans believe. They are an ever decreasing group that is supported by less than 25% of the American people. Supporters of reproductive choice outnumber Tea Partiers. So do supporters of background checks for gun purchases, supporters of immigration reform, supporters of taxing the rich, supporters of alternative fuels, and many more progressive causes. Yet for some reason there has never been a poll to ascertain the motivation of those voters.

For most of the past six years the Republican Party has demonstrated itself to be a lily-livered appeaser of its worst elements. And there is no reason to expect them to change after November. So if you have an interest in advancing solutions to real problems in this country, rather than becoming mired in a bitter and partisan impeachment melodrama, you had better vote on November 4th, and make sure that all of your progressive friends and family do as well.

If you don’t think they’re crazy enough to do it, you haven’t been paying enough attention to John Boehner and Darrell Issa and Louis Gohmert and Michelle Bachmann and Steve King and Blake Farenthold and Steve Stockman and – oh hell, this could go on forever. Let’s just say the whole friggin’ congressional GOP caucus.

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.

Shameless self-promotion…
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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.”

Shameless self-promotion…
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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.