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“The White Whale”: Empowering Captain Ahab To Shut Down The Federal Government

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but yesterday, as part of his 180 degree turn on the topic, Sen. Marco Rubio was said to be “hinting” that Republicans might just, oh, shut down the government or something if Barack Obama took major executive action to expand (or even maintain) DACA. Today Rubio’s new ally on immigration policy, Steve King of Iowa, was more explicit, per a report from the Des Moines Register‘s Kathie Obradovich:

Congressman Steve King said today the threat of another government shutdown could be Republicans’ leverage to pass border security and immigration legislation this fall.

Congress must act before the end of September to either approve a budget or continue spending at current levels to avoid a government shutdown. House Speaker John Boehner has said he expects action on a short-term continuing resolution next month.

King, R-Kiron, said “all bets are off” on a continuing resolution if President Barack Obama follows through with reported plans to deal with immigration issues without Congress.

“If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear …,” King said. “I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that….”

Even if Obama does not act unilaterally on immigration reform, King says he believes the continuing resolution is still a bargaining chip for GOP priorities. “When we hear some of our leaders say there will be no government shutdown, that’s the political equivalent of saying there will be no boots on the ground,” he said.

Now the congressional leadership probably won’t like this kind of talk. But like Rubio himself, they’ve pretty much delegated immigration policy to Steve King. So they can’t really complain if Captain Ahab thinks every conceivable issue in Washington is subordinate to bringing down the white whale.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, August 27, 2014

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Government Shut Down, Marco Rubio, Steve King | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Rubio vs. Rubio On Immigration Reform”: His New Line Is The GOP Should Get 100% Of What It Wants Now, And Later

Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) has a challenge for which there is no obvious answer. He helped write a popular, bipartisan immigration-reform bill, which his party’s base hates with the heat of a thousand suns. If the conservative Floridian abandons his own legislation, he looks craven and cowardly. If the senator stands by his work, the Republican base will reject him.

And so Rubio is left trying to distance himself from his own bill in a way that doesn’t make him look ridiculous. As we were reminded yesterday, it’s easier said than done.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday said Congress “will never have the votes” for a comprehensive immigration bill without first addressing border security, urging a step-by-step approach to the issue.

“We will never have the votes necessary to pass a one, in one bill, all of those things,” said Rubio on “Fox News Sunday” about border security, a path to legalization and an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. “It just won’t happen.”

What’s wrong with this? Well, everything.

First, the whole point of comprehensive immigration reform, which Rubio championed as recently as last year, is to create a compromise framework that both parties could embrace: Republicans get increased border security; Democrats get a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are already in the United States. Rubio’s new line is that the GOP should get 100% of what it wants now, and later, Republicans will think about Democratic priorities.

In other words, the senator has gone from endorsing a bipartisan compromise to endorsing a policy in which his party gets everything it wants in exchange for nothing but the promise of possible action at some point in the future.

Second, while Rubio 2013 believed Congress can and should pass his bipartisan legislation, Rubio 2014 insists his bill “just won’t happen” because “we will never have the votes.” But this too is at odds with what we know – by many estimates, if the House Republican leadership brought comprehensive immigration reform to the floor, it would pass. That assessment is shared by many from the left, right, and center, which is why GOP leaders refuse to allow the House to work its will.

When Rubio says the votes aren’t there, he arguably has it backwards – the bill passed the Senate easily, and would likely fare just as well in the House if given a chance.

As for the Florida Republican inching away from his own positions, Rubio remains in an awkward spot.

“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace on Sunday challenged Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to explain why he pulled his support for the Senate bipartisan immigration reform bill.

Wallace displayed polls showing Rubio’s favorability taking a hit since supporting the bill. “Is that why you have now switched and said we have to do this in stages with enforcement first and any dealing with legality or citizenship for the immigrants way down the line and afterward?” Wallace asked.

Rubio said his stance on immigration reform has nothing to do with politics.

Perish the thought.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 4, 2014

August 9, 2014 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio, Senate | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Every Republican Must Answer”: Has Barack Obama Really Been Waging A ‘War On Whites’?

Get ‘em on record. Every last one of them. That’s what we need to do. Every single Republican presidential hopeful, Congressional leader, hell, any Republican who is running for federal or statewide office this fall needs to answer the question of whether or not there is a “war on whites” being waged right now by President Barack Obama. From where could such a preposterous idea come, you might ask? Where else, but from a House Republican?

“This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else…It’s part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. Well that’s not true.”

That’s the truth according to Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who uttered those words in an interview with right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham on Monday. This is not a local, county official. This is not one of a half-dozen candidates for a congressional seat. This is a sitting U.S. congressman. Last year Brooks voted for John Boehner to be speaker of the House. Right now, we deserve to know whether Boehner thinks the president started a war on whites back in 2008. But we don’t want to hear just from Boehner. We must hear from all of them.

The time has come for each and every Republican to decide where he or she stands. They must come out into the open and either embrace the race-baiters, or throw them under the campaign bus. But understand this, when an Alabama conservative says that the black president and his party have been waging war against white people, he is channeling the spirit of George Wallace declaring “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” He is calling forth hatred. He is all but summoning violence.

Rational people know that there has been no actual legislation either proposed, supported, or passed by this president that has targeted white Americans as a racial group. Furthermore, as I’ve written elsewhere, Barack Obama has, through his words, sought to strengthen the bonds that bring all Americans together across racial lines in a way no previous president has done.

Mo Brooks is a hateful demagogue of the lowest order. That we know. What we don’t know is this: Are there any Republicans out there willing to stand up and reject his hate?

 

By: Ian Reifowitz, The Huffington Post Blog, August 7, 2014

August 8, 2014 Posted by | Mo Brooks, Race and Ethnicity, Racism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Your Choice Mr. Speaker”: House Intel Committee Finds No Benghazi Scandal; Will Boehner Ignore Its Findings?

According to Representative Mike Thompson, Democrat of California, a report from the Republican led House Intelligence Committee on the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, “confirms that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given.”

Late last week, before Congress headed out of Washington for August recess, the body voted to declassify the document.

After nearly two years of investigations, millions of dollars spent, tens of thousands of pages of documents handed over by the administration, a Republican-led committee is about to release a report stating that there is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the Obama White House. In fact, nearly all of the accusations levied against the White House over the past year by conservatives in Congress, and amplified by the media, have now been determined to be false—by a Republican jury.

House Speaker John Boehner is now left with a choice. Will he allow Rep. Trey Gowdy’s kangaroo court, formulated in the guise of a select committee, proceed with its Benghazi investigation, covering ground already delved into not only by the House Intelligence Committee, but by the House Armed Services Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Accountability Review Board and numerous other investigatory panels?

Doing so would now be nothing short of an explicit vote of no confidence in House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican. What will Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, discover that two years of investigations by his GOP colleagues could not? If the House leadership views the Intelligence Committee as that incompetent, shouldn’t its chairman be replaced?

As The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake reported in May,

“There is deep unease within the Republican leadership that the select committee, which has yet to announce a schedule of hearings, could backfire, and badly. Investigate and find nothing new, and the committee looks like a bunch of tin-hatted obsessives. Investigate and uncover previously-hidden secrets, and it makes all of the other Republican led panels that dug into Benghazi seem like Keystone Kops.”

But what is even more clear now than it was a few weeks ago is that, for Boehner, the appointment of the Benghazi Select Committee has nothing to do with finding the truth about the attack that took the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens, along with those of Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods. It was theater—and bad theater at that.

Attempting to placate the ideological fringes of the Republican conference by using a taxpayer-funded investigation is at best the most cynical form of politics. To continue the charade after a Republican chairman releases findings that undermine the very core of your investigation is outright fraud.

But the Benghazi Select Committee will keep on moving forward. And it will not end after the 2014 elections. If Hillary Clinton chooses to run, the committee will become a principal tool in the conservative movement’s campaign apparatus against her, holding hearings designed to obscure the truth and smear Clinton during the least opportune moments of the electoral cycle.

And if Clinton is elected in 2016, there is little doubt the work of the committee will continue as long as Republicans continue to control the House of Representatives. Why surrender a taxpayer-funded campaign attack dog, especially one endowed by Congress with subpoena power?

 

By: Ari Rabin-Hayt, The American Prospect, August 4, 2014

 

August 5, 2014 Posted by | Benghazi, GOP, John Boehner | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Can The Voters Change The GOP?”: The Electorate Must Realize That The Radical Right Is The Real Culprit

The central issue in this fall’s elections could turn out to be a sleeper: What kind of Republican Party does the country want?

It is, to be sure, a strange question to put to an electorate in which independents and Democrats constitute a majority. Yet there is no getting around this: The single biggest change in Washington over the last five years has been a GOP shift to a more radical form of conservatism. This, in turn, has led to a kind of rejectionism that views cooperation with President Obama as inherently unprincipled.

Solving the country’s problems requires, above all, turning the Republican Party back into a political enterprise willing to share the burdens of governing, even when a Democrat is in the White House.

For those looking for a different, more constructive Republicanism, this is not a great year to stage the battle. Because of gerrymandering, knocking the current band of Republicans out of control of the House is a Herculean task. And most of the competitive seats in the fight for the Senate are held by Democrats in Republican states. The GOP needs to win six currently Democratic seats to take over, and it appears already to have nailed down two or three of these. Republicans are now favored in the open seats of South Dakota and West Virginia, and probably also in Montana.

Nonetheless, there is as yet no sense of the sort of tide that in 2010 gave a Republicanism inflected with tea party sensibilities dominance in the House. The core narrative of the campaign has yet to be established. Democrats seeking reelection are holding their own in Senate races in which they are seen as vulnerable.

And then there was last week’s House fiasco over resolving the refugee crisis at our border. It served as a reminder that Republican leaders are handcuffing themselves by choosing to appease their most right-wing members rather than pursuing middle-ground legislation by collaborating with Democrats.

The bill that House Speaker John Boehner was trying to pass last Thursday already tilted well rightward. It provided Obama with only a fraction of what he said was needed to deal with the crisis — $659 million, compared with the president’s request for $3.7 billion. It also included provisions to put deportations on such a fast track that Obama threatened to veto it. A White House statement said that its “arbitrary timelines” were both impractical and inhumane.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi happened to be meeting with a group of journalists when the bill collapsed. “In order for them to pass a bill, they had to make it worse and worse and worse,” she said, referring to Boehner’s efforts to placate members who have entered into an unusual cross-chamber alliance with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to foil even conservative legislation if they regard it as insufficiently pure. When the bill was pulled back, Pelosi observed: “They couldn’t make it bad enough.”

On Friday, the GOP leadership pushed the measure still further right and added $35 million for border states to get it passed at an unusual evening session — but not before Republicans themselves had complained loudly about dysfunction in their own ranks.

In the meantime, the Senate was paralyzed on the issue by filibusters and other procedural hurdles that have rendered majority rule an antique notion in what once proudly proclaimed itself “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

As the House was preparing to pass its bill, Obama told a news conference on Friday that GOP leaders were well aware that he’d veto it if it came to him and bemoaned the fact that “even basic, commonsense, plain vanilla legislation” can’t get through because Republicans fear “giving Obama a victory.”

Last week’s legislative commotion could change the political winds by putting the costs of the GOP’s flight from moderation into stark relief. House Republicans found themselves in the peculiar position of simultaneously suing Obama for executive overreach and then insisting that he could act unilaterally to solve the border crisis.

Pelosi, for her part, went out of her way to praise “the Grand Old Party that did so much and has done so much for our country.” Commending the opposing party is not an election year habit, but her point was to underscore that Republicans had been “hijacked” by a “radical right wing” that is not simply “anti-government” but also “anti-governance.”

On balance, Washington gridlock has hurt Democrats more than Republicans by dispiriting moderate and progressive constituencies that had hoped Obama could usher in an era of reform. The key to the election will be whether Democrats can persuade these voters that the radical right is the real culprit in their disappointment — and get them to act accordingly on Election Day.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, August 3, 2014

August 4, 2014 Posted by | Election 2014, Electorate, GOP, Right Wing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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