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“The Hostility Of Latter-Day Republicans”: For Obama, No Point In Being Conciliatory Now

I didn’t watch much TV last night, but I got the impression that whenever the gabbers ran out of steam in describing what was unfolding, they’d revert to blah blah blah about whether the results would re-inaugurate some sort of Era of Good Feeling in Washington.

It’s unclear to me if this sort of talk reflects incredible delusions about the hostility to compromise of latter-day Republicans, or the belief that Barack Obama and Democrats have no play but total surrender. Either way, it makes no sense, even if both sides make the obligatory cooing sounds about bipartisanship and “solving the country’s problems” for a few days.

Last night’s results, in fact, will enormously ratchet up pressure on Republican congressional leaders to act as though their party is already in charge. We’re much more likely to hear ultimatums than peace offerings. I’d figure Boehner and McConnell will let the White House know, privately and publicly, that life can get easier if Obama (a) approves the Keystone XL pipeline, (b) indefinitely delays any DACA expansion, and (c) indefinitely delays final action on climate change regs.

Maybe (a) is a viable option; for all any of us knows, the administration has already decided to approve Keystone. But pure merits aside, backing off on DACA would squander the most important political chip Obama can play for his party before leaving office, and backing off climate change regs might well kill prospects for doing anything on the most important long-range challenge facing the country for many years to come. I personally cannot see anything within the power of congressional Republicans to offer Obama that would justify either concession. Saying “no,” on the other hand, will almost certainly cause Republicans heartburn over the inevitable divisions of opinion about how, exactly, to respond (after the shrieks of rage have subsided). Add in the fact that an awful lot of Republican activists and opinion-leaders are going to vastly over-interpret the midterm results into either a “mandate” or a sign of manifest destiny, there’s little reason to think the GOP is going to listen to those who think the next two years must be devoted to changing the party’s image. At this point, it would be a terrible idea for Obama and Democrats to help Republicans achieve a “pragmatic” makeover they’re not willing to earn by disappointing the almighty “base.”

Besides, Democrats have another task that should absorb their time for the next year or so: coming up with a agenda for keeping the economic recovery going while boosting its tangible benefits for the 99%. Making progress on that front would be better medicine for the Democratic Party and for the country than considering concessions to the people who think there’s not enough inequality today.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, November 5, 2014

November 7, 2014 Posted by | Bipartisanship, Midterm Elections, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Evangelical Myth Won. Wall Street Won. The Banks Won. America Lost”: Since Lies Worked So Well For Republicans, We’ll Have More

The Republican Party base is white evangelicals. So no wonder the GOP lies about the country, the economy and the president worked. The folks who base their lives on religious mythology have spent lifetimes being trained to believe lies. And if you point that out then they kick into victim mode and denounce people who question them as persecutors. Last night they won. Lies won.

As the New York Times noted:

“Republican candidates campaigned on only one thing: what they called the failure of President Obama. In speech after speech, ad after ad, they relentlessly linked their Democratic opponent to the president and vowed that they would put an end to everything they say the public hates about his administration. On Tuesday morning, the Republican National Committee released a series of get-out-the-vote images showing Mr. Obama and Democratic Senate candidates next to this message: ‘If you’re not a voter, you can’t stop Obama.’ The most important promises that winning Republicans made were negative in nature. They will repeal health care reform. They will roll back new regulations on banks and Wall Street. They will stop the Obama administration’s plans to curb coal emissions and reform immigration and invest in education.”

Since the economy has rebounded, health care reform has worked, all that remained for the GOP was to lie. And since the base of the GOP is white aging southern evangelicals the GOP was in luck. These are easy folks to lie to. That’s because they already accept an alternative version of reality. Also, of course since the lies are about a black man, that doesn’t hurt. Yes, race is “still” an issue.

The midterm election boiled down to xenophobia about the “Other.” Ebola was the president’s fault! ISIS was coming to get us! We aren’t safe!

None of this is true, but no matter. In fact judging by actual facts the Obama presidency has been successful in spite of the GOP obstruction. The economy is back. Jobs are up. Health care reform is working. We’ve been kept safe from terror attacks. America is strong.

What we’ll now see is a reinvigorated religious right. And since lies worked so well we’ll have more. Creationism, anti-gay initiatives, anti-choice initiatives, and of course pro-Koch-Brother-Financed lies upon lies to bury climate change debate is on the way.

The Republican-dominated Supreme Court stands ready to back corporate and religious right-financed attacks of the environment, pro-Wall Street laws and all the rest.

Racism  won. Evangelical myth won. Wall Street won. The banks won. America lost.


By: Frank Schaeffer, The Huffington Post Blog, Movember 5, 2014

November 5, 2014 Posted by | Evangelicals, Midterm Elections, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Plutocrats Against Democracy”: Don’t Let The Bottom Half, Or Maybe Even The Bottom 90 Percent, Vote

It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies” — policies, presumably, that would make the rich less rich and provide more aid to those with lower incomes.

So Mr. Leung is worried about the 50 percent of Hong Kong’s population that, he believes, would vote for bad policies because they don’t make enough money. This may sound like the 47 percent of Americans who Mitt Romney said would vote against him because they don’t pay income taxes and, therefore, don’t take responsibility for themselves, or the 60 percent that Representative Paul Ryan argued pose a danger because they are “takers,” getting more from the government than they pay in. Indeed, these are all basically the same thing.

For the political right has always been uncomfortable with democracy. No matter how well conservatives do in elections, no matter how thoroughly free-market ideology dominates discourse, there is always an undercurrent of fear that the great unwashed will vote in left-wingers who will tax the rich, hand out largess to the poor, and destroy the economy.

In fact, the very success of the conservative agenda only intensifies this fear. Many on the right — and I’m not just talking about people listening to Rush Limbaugh; I’m talking about members of the political elite — live, at least part of the time, in an alternative universe in which America has spent the past few decades marching rapidly down the road to serfdom. Never mind the new Gilded Age that tax cuts and financial deregulation have created; they’re reading books with titles like “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic,” asserting that the big problem we have is runaway redistribution.

This is a fantasy. Still, is there anything to fears that economic populism will lead to economic disaster? Not really. Lower-income voters are much more supportive than the wealthy toward policies that benefit people like them, and they generally support higher taxes at the top. But if you worry that low-income voters will run wild, that they’ll greedily grab everything and tax job creators into oblivion, history says that you’re wrong. All advanced nations have had substantial welfare states since the 1940s — welfare states that, inevitably, have stronger support among their poorer citizens. But you don’t, in fact, see countries descending into tax-and-spend death spirals — and no, that’s not what ails Europe.

Still, while the “kind of politics and policies” that responds to the bottom half of the income distribution won’t destroy the economy, it does tend to crimp the incomes and wealth of the 1 percent, at least a bit; the top 0.1 percent is paying quite a lot more in taxes right now than it would have if Mr. Romney had won. So what’s a plutocrat to do?

One answer is propaganda: tell voters, often and loudly, that taxing the rich and helping the poor will cause economic disaster, while cutting taxes on “job creators” will create prosperity for all. There’s a reason conservative faith in the magic of tax cuts persists no matter how many times such prophecies fail (as is happening right now in Kansas): There’s a lavishly funded industry of think tanks and media organizations dedicated to promoting and preserving that faith.

Another answer, with a long tradition in the United States, is to make the most of racial and ethnic divisions — government aid just goes to Those People, don’t you know. And besides, liberals are snooty elitists who hate America.

A third answer is to make sure government programs fail, or never come into existence, so that voters never learn that things could be different.

But these strategies for protecting plutocrats from the mob are indirect and imperfect. The obvious answer is Mr. Leung’s: Don’t let the bottom half, or maybe even the bottom 90 percent, vote.

And now you understand why there’s so much furor on the right over the alleged but actually almost nonexistent problem of voter fraud, and so much support for voter ID laws that make it hard for the poor and even the working class to cast ballots. American politicians don’t dare say outright that only the wealthy should have political rights — at least not yet. But if you follow the currents of thought now prevalent on the political right to their logical conclusion, that’s where you end up.

The truth is that a lot of what’s going on in American politics is, at root, a fight between democracy and plutocracy. And it’s by no means clear which side will win.


By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, October 23, 2014

October 24, 2014 Posted by | Democracy, Plutocrats, Voter Suppression | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Fear Mongering, Because It’s All They Have Left”: The GOP Is Desperate To Win The Mid-Term Elections

They supported the sequester which cut funding research for the Center For Disease Control. Maybe we could have been closer to a cure for a certain virus. They refused to hold confirmation hearings for President Obama’s choice for Surgeon General because they don’t like the nominee, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy (big surprise! Could the NRA’s objection have something to do with it?) Gee, we could have used one right about now. They decided to not come back from their fall break (after a long summer vacation) to vote on going to war against ISIS and instead are campaigning for the mid-term elections.

And now certain members of the Republican party are running election ads attacking the President and Democrats for not doing more to stop both the Ebola virus and ISIS. To me, this is the height of hypocrisy.

One GOP campaigner, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) even went so far as to lie on Fox News and say at least 10 Islamist State fighters were captured at the southern border. This, after others concocted a false scheme where they say immigrant children were entering the country with the Ebola virus.

Either the GOP is very clever, playing on the fears of US citizens or they are desperate to win the mid-terms. But the truth is the President has shown leadership and taken bold action on both issues. He sent troops and medical aids and supplies to the Ebola afflicted African nations. He has appointed an Ebola Czar, Ron Klain, a veteran DC insider with experience in navigating the government bureaucracy and after calling on the President to appoint such a position, of course, the GOP are condemning his choice because they say he has no medical background.

My understanding is that this appointee will not be actually doctoring or healing those with the disease but coordinating and overseeing an effort to find a cure and assist health care workers and hospitals and tracking down those exposed to the virus.

The President and Secretary of State John Kerry have assembled an impressive coalition of many nations including Arab ones to help fight ISIS. Our bombing of ISIS headquarters in Syria and Iraq and most recently the Syrian Kurdish border city of Kobane have ISIS on the run. President Obama has said it will be a long fight but we must prevail.

The ironic thing is that even though Republican lawmakers support the President’s actions against ISIS, many have blamed him for their emergence and have constantly called him weak on foreign policy issues. I remember a time when it would have been deemed treasonous to not back our Commander in Chief in times of war.

Instead of constantly condemning, I would like to know what the GOP plans to do. Besides a travel ban which many experts believe would hamper efforts to contain the virus where it started, I have seen no solutions from Republicans to either of these crises.

I notice we hear little these days about Obamacare which was supposed to be the defining issue of these mid-terms. I guess that means those people who have it like it (and can keep it). My question is why don’t the Democrats turn it into an election year plus and call out the naysayers? Is it because it is too closely tied to the President? The GOP may be fear mongerers but the Dems are cowards.

It seems to me those seeking election should campaign positively and tell what they have done and will do for the American public rather than running away from the tough issues or blaming the other side for all the ills in the world. No wonder Congress has an approval rating of 16 percent. They talk about the President’s being low at 40 percent but he’s 24 percent higher than they are.

I get it. The campaign tactic is to deflect from the good economic news and the growing support for Obamacare. But I am hoping the electorate will reject the fear mongering and the voter suppression and the cowardly avoiding of the hot button issues and do research and vote for those who run clean campaigns and have proven themselves good public servants. There must be a handful of them out there. The only way to exact change is to throw out those who have no solutions but constantly complain. Negativity is not what we need right now, rather it is a coming together of hearts and minds to solve our problems in a constructive way regardless of party.


By: Joan E. Dowlin, The Huffington Post Blog, October 21, 2014

October 22, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Midterm Elections, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Gosh, Can You Imagine?”: Scott Brown Sees Mitt Romney As An Ebola Repellent

Ordinarily, candidates for major public offices get better as campaigns progress. The improvements tend to be organic – politicians do more interviews, make more appearances, deliver more speeches, and answer more questions, and the process hones their skills. Practice makes perfect.

Scott Brown, however, is one of those rare candidates who defies the odds. As the only politician in the country who’s run in three separate U.S. Senate campaigns in four years, one might assume he’d be the sharpest and most pitch-perfect candidate in America.

And yet, the Republican is arguably getting worse. Brown has gone from suggesting terrorists will strike by sneaking through Mexico with Ebola to arguing that Mitt Romney could stop Ebola with his amazing Romney-esque talents.

Scott Brown told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade Friday that Ebola wouldn’t be a problem for America if Mitt Romney had won in 2012.

“Gosh can you imagine if Mitt was the president right now?” Brown said. “He was right on Russia, he was right on Obamacare, he was right on the economy. And I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now and, you know, worrying about our foreign policy screw ups.”

Clearly, all of our assumptions about candidates getting better with practice need to be revised. Brown’s on-air comments may position him to lead the Mitt Romney Fan Club in whichever state Brown ends up living in next, but they’re not the words of a sensible political observer.

The pitch itself defies rational thought. Even putting aside the substantive inanity, Brown isn’t supposed to be running out playing the role of Romney surrogate, making the case for the failed candidate’s alleged greatness; Brown is ostensibly running his own campaign – in a state Romney lost.

But even putting that aside, Romney wasn’t right about Russia. It’s hard to say whether Romney was “right on Obamacare” given that Romney created the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act before deciding he no longer liked his successful accomplishment. We know with certainty, however, that Romney wasn’t “right on the economy.”

As for the notion that Romney could have stopped Ebola, I’d love hear more about the former one-term governor’s expertise in infectious diseases.

It seemed the politicization of Ebola couldn’t get more ridiculous. Scott Brown found a way.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 20, 2014

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Ebola, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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