"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“So Many GOP Options”: Anybody Can Grow Up To Be Speaker Of The House!

I suppose it’s as good a time as any to recall that under the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Speaker does not have to be a Member. And so, you get this entirely non-humorous tweet from a Washington Examiner reporter:

He wouldn’t need any OJT, and all the rumors about his infidelities have long been confirmed, right?

But if you’re going to think “outside the box” for a House Speaker, there are other options, too:

Soeaker Carly Fiorina. would finally have that missing item on her resume–you know, remotely relevant qualifications for the presidency–and could symbolize the fact that just because the House GOP is trying to shut down Planned Parenthood and opposes pay equity is no reason to assume there’s any “war on women” going on.

Speaker Bobby Jindal could draw on his past House experience, and he’d have an excuse to leave Louisiana for good!

Speaker Sean Hannity could cut out the middle-men in Fox News/GOP message communications.

Speaker David Koch could cut out the middle-men, period.

So many options! Who else can you think of, dear readers?


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 8, 2015

October 9, 2015 Posted by | Newt Gingrich, House Republicans, Speaker of The House | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“A Flagrant Liar For President?”: Darling Fiorina Is Not Only A Relentless Self-Promoter, But Also A Remorseless Liar

We’ve got a new darling in the GOP presidential race: Carly Fiorina!

Being the darling du jour, however, can be dicey — just ask Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two former darlings who are now out of the race, having turned into ugly ducklings by saying stupid things. But Fiorina is smart, sharp witted, and successful. We know this because she and her PR agents constantly tell us it’s so. Be careful about believing anything she says, though, for Darling Fiorina is not only a relentless self-promoter, but also a remorseless liar.

Take her widely hailed performance in the second debate among Republican wannabes, where she touched many viewers with her impassioned and vivid attack on Planned Parenthood. With barely contained outrage, Fiorina described a video that, she said, shows the women’s health organization in a depraved act of peddling body parts of an aborted fetus. “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking,” said a stone-faced Fiorina, looking straight into the camera, “while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’”

Oh, the horror, the monstrosity of Planned Parenthood! And how moving it was to see and feel the fury of this candidate for president!

Only … it’s not true. Although she dared the audience, President Obama and Hillary Clinton to go watch it, turns out that there is no such video — no fetus with kicking legs and no demonic Planned Parenthood official luridly preparing to harvest a brain.

So did Fiorina make up this big, nasty lie herself, or did her PR team concoct it as a bit of showbiz drama to burnish her right-wing credentials and advance her political ambition? Or maybe she’s just spreading a malicious lie she was told by some vicious haters of Planned Parenthood. Either way, there’s nothing darling about it, much less presidential.

I remember back in 1992 when the third-party candidate Ross Perot chose Admiral James Stockdale, a complete unknown, to be his presidential running mate. In his first debate, the vice presidential candidate began by asking a question: “Who am I? Why am I here?”

We should be asking the same about Carly, as she has recently surged in the polls of GOP primary voters. Her campaign is positioning her as a no-nonsense, successful corporate chieftain who can run government with businesslike efficiency. During the debate, Fiorina rattled off a list of her accomplishments as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the high-tech conglomerate: “We doubled the size of the company, we quadrupled its topline growth rate, we quadrupled its cash flow, we tripled its rate of innovation,” she declared in PowerPoint style.

Statistics, however, can be a sophisticated way of lying. In fact, the growth she bragged about was mostly the result of her buying Compaq, another computer giant in a merger that proved to be disastrous — in fact, Hewlett-Packard’s profits declined 40 percent in her six years, its stock prices plummeted and she fired 30,000 workers, even saying publicly that their jobs should be shipped overseas. Finally, she was fired.

Before we accept her claim that “running government like a business” would be a positive, note that the narcissistic corporate culture richly rewarded Fiorina for failure. Yes, she was fired, but unlike the thousands of HP employees she dumped, a golden parachute was provided to let her land in luxury — counting severance pay, stock options, and pension, she was given $42 million to go away.

But here she comes again, lacking even one iota of humility. Fiorina is throwing out a blizzard of lies, not only about Planned Parenthood, but also about who she is. She’s the personification of corporate greed and economic inequality, and she’s trying to bamboozle Republicans into thinking she belongs in the White House.


By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, October 7, 2015

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Planned Parenthood, Women's Health, Carly Fiorina | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“The Human Society Has Begun To Work Against Itself”: If Republicans Cared About Families, They’d Stop Blocking Paid Leave

Several participants at the Republican debate last week spoke fervently about putting Rosa Parks’ image on the $10 bill. They also spoke fervently in support of a decision by Congress to defund Planned Parenthood—an organization that counted Rosa Parks among the members of its national board.

The contradiction would have been obvious and painful to Ms. Parks. Like many of us, she’d have been bewildered by the priorities of candidates who have held vote after vote on shutting down vital health services for women, but won’t even schedule a hearing on the FAMILY Act, a bill to provide affordable family and medical leave. It’s impossible to care about families and leave communities bereft of services for contraception, mammograms and other cancer screenings, and dozens more critical health services for women. It’s also impossible to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose a badly-needed, common sense program to make family and medical leave affordable to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member.

In 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act passed Congress with bipartisan support. The FMLA provided up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for care of a new child or a serious personal illness or that of a child, spouse or parent. Republicans as well as Democrats saw that valuing family meant making sure people could care for family members without losing their jobs or health insurance. Many of the state and local campaigns within Family Values @ Work’s national network have leaders from both parties—including the numerous Republicans leading the charge for the Family Care Act in Georgia.

So what’s the problem in the nation’s capital today?

The FMLA is now 22 years old. While it constituted a major breakthrough and established the principle that having a family shouldn’t cost you your job, the leave remains out of reach for millions—some because they’re not covered by its protections (two-fifths of the nation’s workforce), and many who are eligible because they cannot afford to take unpaid leave. According to a study done for the Department of Labor (DOL), nearly one in four employed mothers who are pregnant go back to work within two weeks of giving birth—with disastrous results for maternal and infant health. Others who take the time they need to heal and bond with a child often face financial hardship.

A new report from the DOL highlights the high cost of doing nothing—lost family income, lower earnings and weaker job security for women, more stress and worse health, worse outcomes for children and seniors, and fewer men taking leave. Businesses also sustain losses in replacing experienced and skilled staff. Our nation suffers in comparison to all our economic competitors.

The lack of paid leave adds to the growing inequality in our nation. A mere 5 percent of low-wage and part-time workers have any pay during leave. And, as the report points out, there are costs harder to calculate: “We are compromising the needs of our children and our parents. We are sacrificing the fundamental value of spending time with one’s family.”

Pope Francis called the family “a great test bench” for how we organize work. “When the organization of work holds it hostage or, in fact, places obstacles in its way, then we are certain that the human society has begun to work against itself!”

If elected officials are serious about promoting family values, they need to stop wasting time on frivolous bills that are a detriment to women and their families and pass the FAMILY Act, a bill that actually helps families everywhere.


By: Ellen Bravo, Director of Family Values @ Work; The New Republic, September 24, 2015

September 25, 2015 Posted by | Planned Parenthood, Women's Health, Family Values, Family and Medical Leave Act | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“To The Sinners In Congress”: Pope Francis isn’t A Liberal. He’s Something More Radical: A Christian Humanist

Pope Francis is causing quite the stir these days.

On Tuesday he will make his first trip to the United States, where he’ll preach the existential urgency of climate change and the moral imperative of economic inequality to a Republican Congress that would probably prefer he talk about abortion and marriage. Conservatives worldwide are upset that Francis is allowing priests to absolve women who repent for an abortion and has “vandalized” marriage by making it easier for Catholics to get their marriages annulled.

In July, Gallup reported that the pope’s favorability among American self-described conservative Catholics had dropped to 45 percent, from 72 percent a year earlier. “This decline may be attributable to the pope’s denouncing of ‘the idolatry of money’ and linking climate change partially to human activity, along with his passionate focus on income inequality,” Gallup said, noting that these are “all issues that are at odds with many conservatives’ beliefs.”

But just because some conservatives are upset with Pope Francis, that doesn’t mean that he’s a liberal. He isn’t, really, politically or religiously.

He is a reformer, and he is shaking things up in a church that had experienced theological and institutional continuity for 35 years under Pope John Paul II, elected in 1978, and Pope Benedict XVI, John Paul’s doctrinal right hand from 1982 until his own elevation to supreme pontiff in 2005.

Francis boldly promotes some policies that make conservatives uncomfortable. But the Pope Francis revolution is probably best described as humanist — and that makes it a much bigger challenge to Catholics in the West, both conservative and liberal.

Let me be clear: I’m not arguing that Francis is a secular humanist, or capital-h Humanist, by any means. Instead, let’s call him a Christian humanist, defining that as one who cares about human beings more than ecclesiastical considerations.

That might sound like secular balderdash, but it’s actually a phrase coined by Pope Benedict. “Christian humanism,” he wrote in the 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”), “enkindles charity and takes its lead from truth, accepting both as a lasting gift from God. Openness to God makes us open toward our brothers and sisters and toward an understanding of life as a joyful task to be accomplished in a spirit of solidarity.” Benedict explicitly borrowed the idea from Pope Paul VI.

Pope Francis has taken the idea of Christian humanism and put it into practice, with a big smile. He is concerned with the welfare of the Roman Catholic Church, certainly, but he is much more concerned with what the Catholic Church calls the “mystical body of Christ” — that is, the people who make up the Christian church.

There are plenty of examples.

His groundbreaking encyclical on climate change, Laudato Sí (“Praise Be to You”), for one, is a stern rebuke to humanity — that includes industrialist polluters, but also voracious consumers and even environmentalists — for turning the Earth into “an immense pile of filth.” But he intrinsically pairs ecology and social justice, arguing that efforts to save the planet “must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.”

Then there’s the pope’s modification of church law to make it easier to get broken marriages annulled, which, Vatican Radio says, is rooted in the core principle of “salus animarum — the salvation of souls.” Catholics whose marriages fail — especially in poorer countries, where annulments are expensive and hard to come by — should be shown mercy and love, encouraged and allowed to fully participate in the sacramental life of the church, whenever possible.

But probably the most illuminating example — the one that shows Francis putting the needs of humanity firmly above the parochial concerns of the church — has to do with the Christian character of Europe.

Pope Benedict, before he retired, fought tooth and nail to keep Europe anchored in Christianity. In 2007, after the European Parliament rejected including references to God and Christianity in the European Constitution, Benedict chastised European lawmakers. How can EU governments “exclude an element as essential to the identity of Europe as Christianity, in which the vast majority of its people continue to identify?” Benedict asked. “Does not this unique form of apostasy of itself, even before God, lead [Europe] to doubt its very identity?”

Pope Francis has not only ignored the issue, he has pleaded with Catholics — and, in fact, all Europeans — to personally house the masses of mostly Muslim migrants seeking refuge in the EU.

The surge of humanity from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya will make Europe more Muslim and less Christian, as some European politicians have noted caustically. But the preeminent Christian leader in Europe is begging Europeans to open their doors, anyway. And in the case of Catholic religious orders, he is more than pleading: He is ordering them to utilize their unused convent and monastery rooms to house refugees, unless they want to start paying property taxes. The Holy See has already chosen two families of migrants to stay in the Vatican, the pope said, and they are welcome to remain “as long as the Lord wants.”

If you think that the church focusing on migrants isn’t novel, you wouldn’t be wrong. Pope Benedict said it was “impossible to remain silent” on the issue of refugee camps in 2008 (years before the refugee camps were in Europe). And, back in 1985, John Paul II said the fact that a migrant “is a citizen of a particular state does not deprive him of membership to the human family.” In the U.S., the Catholic Church has long advocated for the rights of immigrants — though the big waves of immigrants in the 20th century were largely Catholic.

But that’s the point of the Pope Francis revolution — it’s not really about new ideas, it’s about what the Catholic Church truly focuses on and where it leads by example. Francis isn’t just visiting the sinners in the U.S. Congress, he’s also visiting the sinners in prison, as well as children, hard laborers, refugees, and other demographics the Bible says that Jesus paid attention to.

Ostentatiously living a more humble papacy, determinedly mingling with the disenfranchised and downtrodden, radically (for the Catholic Church) putting the laity at the center of church solicitude: This is the change Francis is bringing to the Catholic Church. It is making lots of people uncomfortable. Honestly, any Catholic that doesn’t feel challenged by Francis’ subversive papacy probably isn’t paying enough attention.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, calls Francis “an equal opportunity disturber,” noting that “when we listen to some things he says, we smile; as we listen to other things he says, we bristle.” But, he added, “Jesus was like that, remember?”

It’s pretty clear Pope Francis does.


By: Peter Weber, The Week, September 22, 2015

September 23, 2015 Posted by | Catholic Church, Pope Francis, Christianity | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Batten Down The Hatches!”: A Perilous Week Ahead For Our Republican Friends

There’s really only one way to say it: the week of September 21, 2015 could be unpleasant for a Republican Party struggling to find its way in the runup to a big, high-stakes election.

Its presidential field remains nearly as large and definitely as unwieldy as ever. Initial polling after last week’s second CNN debate shows that the long-awaited, fervently prayed-for decline in support for Donald Trump isn’t happening just yet. The main result of the debate was instead to consolidate the powerful position of three dubiously qualified “outsiders,” Trump, Ben Carson, and the star of the moment, Carly Fiorina. All three of them continue to say and do things that aren’t particularly troubling to the angry Republican “base” but are very problematic in a general election.

Over the weekend Trump batted away criticism over his silence in the face of a supporter who loudly insisted in the candidate’s presence that the president is a Muslim born outside the United States (an assertion an alarming percentage of Republicans believe against all evidence). Trump says it’s not his job to defend the hated Obama. Carson is in the spotlight for insisting against the rather explicit language of the U.S. Constitution that there should in fact be a “religious test” for the presidency, barring Muslims. Meanwhile, Fiorina is being besieged by the facts she ignored in her debate presentation–especially with respect to the Planned Parenthood videos she discussed to the delight of Christian Right voters–and by the long-overdue MSM scrutiny of her arguably catastrophic record as CEO of HP, her primary credential for high office (see Jeffrey Sonnenberg’s refutation of her debate remarks about him and her HP tenure).

But even as the three zero-experience front-runners lose friends and alienate people, it’s not like the rest of the field is moving on up. One early favorite, Scott Walker, is by all accounts in desperate condition, and having decided to drop everything else to go try to shore up his horrendous standing in Iowa, made a poor impression on his first post-CNN-debate public appearance there.

Off the campaign trail, congressional Republicans are snarled in separate yet equally dangerous internal disputes over the extent to which they will court a government shutdown to express unhappiness with the Iran Nuclear Deal–which they strangely consider a big political winner for themselves–and to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Budget wizard Stan Collender has now raised his estimate of the odds of a government shutdown to 75%. It’s a particularly bad sign that Republicans are already resorting to the tired and notably ineffective tactic of arguing that it’s Obama who would be shutting down the government by rejecting GOP demands.

If that’s not enough for you, keep in mind the Pope is coming to town this week, and whatever comfort conservatives take from his inevitable condemnation of legalized abortion, he is certain to bring a message on climate change and corporate greed that will make conservative Catholics go a little crazy.

And stimulating craziness will definitely be like bringing coals to Newcastle for the GOP right now. Batten down the hatches!


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 21, 2015

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Republicans, Government Shut Down, Donald Trump | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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