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“Paging Doctor Rove”: Cartoon Supervillain In All His Fading Glory

In a move reminiscent of the Terry Schiavo episode—in which Senator Bill Frist, the Tennessee Republican, assumed the power to diagnose people via television—right-wing strategist Karl Rove is spending his time on the speaker circuit telling people Hillary Clinton might have brain damage.

Why, pray tell? After suffering from a blood clot in 2012 that delayed her congressional testimony about Benghazi, Clinton came back “after 30 days in the hospital … wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury.” “We need to know what’s up with that,” Rove said at a conference last week. (The New York Post reported his comments today.)

Except it was three days later. And as far as anyone knows, there are no special glasses for people who’ve had a brain injury.

Is this Rove, cartoon supervillain, at work? Former George W. Bush Communications Director Nicolle Wallace, who worked with Rove in the White House, says it was “a deliberate strategy on his part to raise [Clinton’s] health as an issue.”

Ann Althouse points out that the country is going to discuss Hillary’s age and health with or without Rove playing medical-mystery detective. “Bring up that subject now and you sound like an oily, unsavory Republican political operative.” In other words, “You sound like Karl Rove.”

Even Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says Clinton seems just fine.

At today’s White House briefing, Obama Spokesperson Jay Carney let Rove have it: “Dr. Rove might have been the last person in America on election night to acknowledge and recognize that the President won reelection, including the state of Ohio, so we’ll leave it at that.”

But, wait: You know when else she was wearing those same glasses? When she left Libya. You know what’s there, right? Benghazi! It’s all falling into place.

“Karl Rove has deceived the country for years, but there are no words for this level of lying,” responds a spokesperson for the Clintons. “She is 100 percent. Period.”

 

By: Gabriel Arana, The American Prospect, May 15, 2014

May 15, 2014 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Karl Rove | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Liberal Republicans–They’re Alive!”: The Fractures In The GOP Aren’t Just About Tactics

Until not long ago, we tended to think of Republicans as unified and focused, and Democrats as inherently fractious (see, for instance, the evergreen “Dems In Disarray” headline). These days the opposite is true—or at least it’s the case that Republicans have become just as divided as Democrats. But how much of that is about Washington infighting and intraparty struggles for power, and how much is actually substantive and matters to voters? This post from The Upshot at the New York Times has some provocative hints. Using polling data from February that tested opinions on a range of issues, they found that Republicans are much less unified than Democrats when it comes to their opinions on policy:

On these seven issues, 47 percent of self-identified Democrats agree with the party’s stance on at least six of them. And 66 percent agree with at least five. Republicans were less cohesive, with just 25 percent agreeing on six or more issues, and 48 percent agreeing on five.

Piling on more issues showed similar results. To check our results, we also created an 11-issue index that added four topics: federal funding for universal pre-kindergarten, the distribution of wealth in the United States, the minimum wage and abortion. A majority of Democrats—61 percent—agreed with at least eight Democratic positions, compared with 42 percent of Republicans who agreed with eight or more Republican positions.

Even though you have a relatively large number of issues being tested, it could be a function of the particular ones we’re talking about. For instance, minimum wage increases are hugely popular and always have been, so it isn’t surprising that plenty of Republicans break with their party on that, and it doesn’t necessarily signify a fundamental and meaningful fracture. So I went over to the original poll, which has a nice interactive graphic you can use to see crosstabs on each question, and there are some interesting signs of dissent within the GOP. For instance:

20 percent of Republicans say their party is nominating candidates who are too conservative, compared to only 9 percent of Democrats who say their party’s candidates are too liberal. At the same time, 32 percent of Republicans say their party’s candidates aren’t conservative enough, compared to 18 percent of Democrats who say their party’s candidates aren’t liberal enough.

29 percent of Republicans say they have an unfavorable view of the Republican party, compared to 14 percent of Democrats who have an unfavorable view of the Democratic party.

On many issues, there are between a quarter and two-fifths of Republicans who disagree with the party’s position. 34 percent think marijuana should be legal, 33 percent think gun laws should be more strict, 28 percent support federally funded universal pre-K, 24 percent think global warming is caused mostly by human activity, 36 percent support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, 40 percent support same-sex marriage, and 37 percent think the distribution of wealth should be more fair.

The Tea Party gets all the press, and not without reason, but there is obviously a significant bloc of Republicans who are displeased with their party’s right turn in the last few years. We’re talking about more than just a few disgruntled Rockefeller Republicans bemoaning it after 18 holes at the Greenwich country club. We’re talking about as much as a third of the party’s voters.

Of course, issues aren’t everything, and these days, conservatism is defined in many ways. It’s a set of policy positions, but it can also be measured by the depth of your loathing for Democrats in general and Barack Obama in particular, or by the kinds of political tactics you embrace. But this is a good reminder that there are significant numbers of Republicans out there who, if you just look at what they think about issues, actually look pretty liberal.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, May 15, 2014

May 15, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ultimately Responsible For Republican Inaction”: Whether He Likes It Or Not, Boehner Controls Immigration Bill’s Fate

For months, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) tried to blame President Obama for House Republicans’ refusal to consider immigration reform: GOP lawmakers don’t trust the White House, the argument went, so the administration’s responsible for Republican intransigence. A few weeks ago, however, Boehner accidentally told the truth: House Republicans, afraid of hard work and tough choices, are ultimately responsible for inaction on the issue.

So which is it? As a matter of substance, the Speaker’s accidental honesty gave away the game, but as a matter of politics, it’s awkward when the House Republican leader blames his own members for a colossal failure – so now Boehner seems to be pushing both arguments simultaneously.

The Ohio Republican, speaking at a luncheon sponsored by several San Antonio business groups, acknowledged that there are some in his conference who do not want to take on the issue, but he was measured in speaking about his colleagues’ resistance.

“There are some members of our party who just do not want to deal with this. It’s no secret,” he said. “I do believe the vast majority of our members do want to deal with this, they want to deal with it openly, honestly and fairly.”

Boehner then added, “I put the ball back in the president’s court. He’s going to have to do something to demonstrate his trustworthiness.”

There are hints of good news here for reform proponents, but for the most part, the Speaker’s position is simply incoherent. If the “vast majority” of House Republicans want to tackle immigration reform, Boehner and his leadership team can … wait for it … tackle immigration reform. There’s nothing stopping them – they’re the House majority; they can do as they please; the Senate has already acted; and the White House is eager to sign something into law.

As for President Obama demonstrating his “trustworthiness,” the administration has already shown its commitment on this issue by increasing deportations and boosting border security to heights without modern precedent. What’s more, leading Democratic lawmakers have offered to delay implementation of the law until 2017, at which time there will be a new president.

Boehner has never been a policy guy, per se, but it’s implausible to think the Speaker of the House isn’t aware of these basic details. It’s what makes his odd rhetoric somewhat baffling – Boehner says Republicans are and aren’t interested in reform, while the president is and isn’t to blame for GOP intransigence.

The Speaker added, in reference to immigration reform in general, “This is not about politics, not about elections. It’s about doing the right thing for the American people. It’s about doing the right thing for the country. Period.”

That’s a perfectly nice sentiment, though it naturally leads one to wonder when, exactly, Boehner might stop talking about the issue and might start governing.

In the meantime, some of the Speaker’s allies are offering his party some not-so-subtle advice. Benjy Sarlin noted yesterday:

Republican-leaning immigration supporters, which include a variety of business leaders and trade associations, have been lobbying Republicans for a year to pass a reform bill. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue warned Republicans on Monday that failure to pass a bill this year would be fatal to the party’s presidential hopes given the rising power of Hispanic and Asian voters who are largely opposed to the GOP’s current immigration stance.

“If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016,” he said in a panel discussion. “I mean, think about that. Think about who the voters are.”

To borrow a metaphor, the ball is in Boehner’s court.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 13, 2014

 

 

 

May 15, 2014 Posted by | House Republicans, Immigration Reform, John Boehner | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Who Made Benghazi ‘Political’?”: Funny, Everyone Seems To Have Forgotten What Really Happened In 2012

If you’re outside that furious little circle of humans who believe Benghazi Is Worse Than Watergate, you may not fully understand why that circle is so furious. I didn’t for a long time, but I think I’ve cracked it. See, it’s not just that allegedly awful decisions were made on the ground. And it’s not even just that the administration supposedly lied in the aftermath to cover up its incompetence. No, the anger has a political end point, which is that this supposed cover-up sealed Barack Obama’s reelection over Mitt Romney and kept the rightful occupant from moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Summaries of the events on the right almost never fail to include language like this from a recent Wall Street Journal editorial: “The reasons Benghazi is important do not have to be rehearsed here. An American outpost, virtually undefended, was attacked by armed and organized al Qaeda-associated militants on the anniversary of 9/11 and four were left dead, including the U.S. ambassador. It happened eight weeks before the 2012 presidential election. From day one White House management and leadership focused on spin and an apparent fiction. Did they deliberately mislead and misdirect? Why was there no military response? Who is responsible?”

These questions are worth exploring. (Even I agree with that—and they have been, eight times by eight separate bodies.) But they have no real political punch without that one sentence in the middle there. Conservatives seem absolutely convinced that if not for the Obama “cover-up” on Benghazi, Romney would have won the election.

There’s one problem with that view: It’s ridiculous. Totally ahistorical. In fact, if you look back closely at how things unfolded in September and October 2012—and everyone seems to have forgotten—it was Romney, not Obama, who bungled Benghazi. It was clear at the time to a broad range of observers, not just liberals, that Romney really screwed the pooch on Benghazi, both when it first happened and then later in a debate.

Any memory of Romney’s initial reaction? He was in such a hurry to blame Ambassador Chris Stevens’s death on Obama that he rushed out a statement blaming the Obama administration for sympathizing “with those who waged the attacks” rather than the “American consulate worker” who died in Benghazi. You read that right—worker, singular. Romney was in such a hurry to get out a statement feeding right-wing paranoia about Obama’s anti-Americanism that it went out even before it was known that four Americans had died.

Romney was referring to a statement released by the American Embassy in Cairo, where the region’s rioting started that night, that criticized the now-famous video for fanning the flames. The statement wasn’t vetted in Washington, and so didn’t represent administration policy, but Romney jumped into the deep end and used it.

The next day, he was torn to pieces. In the old United States—yes, even during a presidential election—a tragedy like Benghazi would have halted campaigning for a day, and certainly, certainly everyone would have agreed that it would have been terribly unseemly for the challenger to politicize the event. But here came Romney: He didn’t even know how many bodies there were before he started trying to score political points off the deaths.

And most every news outlet took him to task. Read here for yourself a roundup of how his statement was playing in real time on September 13, 2012. Here’s the opening of a Bloomberg piece headlined “Romney Criticized for Handling of Libya Protests, Death”: “The attacks that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya became a flashpoint in the American presidential race, as Republican nominee Mitt Romney drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans for chastising President Barack Obama and his administration on their response.” Democrats and Republicans.

Romney policy director Lahnee Chen didn’t make things any better for his boss by saying the campaign went with the criticism because it fit the “narrative”: “We’ve had this consistent critique and narrative on Obama’s foreign policy, and we felt this was a situation that met our critique, that Obama really has been pretty weak in a number of ways on foreign policy.” A situation that met our critique. Before they really knew much of anything. Priceless.

At that point, Romney started backtracking a bit. But on the right the issue kept a-boiling, through Susan Rice’s appearance on the chat shows, until the second presidential debate, the foreign-policy debate. Romney was presented with a chance to re-handle Benghazi, and he screwed it up even worse. That was when Obama said, accurately, that he called the attack “an act of terror” the day after in the Rose Garden, and Romney countered, “I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.” The transcript showed that Obama was right and Romney was wrong.

So Romney had a second shot at winning the Benghazi argument in real time, but all he managed to do was make it worse. It was crystal clear at the time that of all the issues of the campaign, he mishandled Benghazi the worst. (I’m not counting the 47 percent business here because that was a different kind of thing. It wasn’t a public policy “issue” that arose during the race.)

So let’s review. A tragic attack occurs. Before it’s even known how many people died or what on the earth are the reasons for the attack, the Republican standard-bearer breaks with all standards of decency and precedent and turns it into a political attack on the president—a presumptive and false one, just based on the paranoid right-wing idea that Obama is weak and somehow wants to cripple America. Then as now, most Americans weren’t buying it, and so Benghazi’s effect on the election, if any, was merely to show voters in the middle that the right was rabid about trying to “prove” that Obama refused to defend America, and it turned them off.

And now here we are, two years and eight investigations later, with Republicans acting shocked, shocked that there might have been anything political in the way the administration dealt with the attack and still carrying on in the same rabid vein. I obviously don’t know to a certainty that the new hearing won’t turn up something genuinely damaging, but unless it does, most Americans will react as they did then: Oh, Republicans doing more crazy shit.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, May 14, 2014

May 15, 2014 Posted by | Benghazi, Conspiracy Theories, Mitt Romney | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Let’s Get The Word Out”: Florida’s Governor Scott Takes Deep Dive Into Climate Change

My fellow Floridians, as you’ve all probably heard, a new National Climate Assessment report says that Florida is seriously threatened by rising sea levels, mass flooding, salt-contaminated water supplies and increasingly severe weather events — all supposedly caused by climate change.

Let me assure you there’s absolutely no reason for worry. I still don’t believe climate change is real, and you shouldn’t, either.

Don’t be impressed just because 240 “experts” contributed to this melodramatic report. The Tea Party has experts, too, and they assure me it’s all hogwash.

Even if the atmosphere is warming (and, whoa, I’m not saying it is!), I still haven’t seen a speck of solid evidence that it has anything to do with man spewing millions of tons of gaseous pollutants into the sky.

Is the planet a hotter place than it was 200 years ago? Yes, but only by a couple of degrees. Did most of the temperature rise occur since 1970? Yes, but don’t blame coal-burning plants or auto emissions.

Maybe the sun is getting closer to the Earth. Ever think of that? Or the Earth is moving closer to the sun? Let’s get some brainiacs to investigate that possibility!

As long as I’m the governor, Florida isn’t going to punish any industries by imposing so-called “clean air” regulations that limit carbon emissions.

In fact, soon after I took office we repealed the state’s Climate Protection Act and eliminated the Energy and Climate Commission that was created under my predecessor, the Obama-hugging turncoat Charlie Crist.

I also ordered the Department of Environmental Protection to halt all initiatives dealing with renewable energy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, no one at DEP is even allowed to whisper the phrase “climate change” any more.

Yet the subject just won’t go away. That’s because the liberal media keep trying to scare everybody.

Say the polar ice caps really are melting, and sea levels really did rise 8 inches during the last 130 years. Who says there has to be a scientific explanation? Maybe God’s just messing around with us for a few centuries.

I myself own a big home in Naples right on the Gulf of Mexico, which is supposedly rising along with the oceans. Do I look scared? Do you see a moving van in my driveway?

Of course not (although I’m grateful to the Koch brothers for offering to let me stay with them in Wichita during the next hurricane).

And, please, enough griping already about Miami Beach going underwater! While I sympathize with all the homeowners and businesses along Alton Road that are being swamped by flooding at high tides, there’s not much I can do as governor except pretend it isn’t happening.

So let’s pull together to remind the rest of America, and the whole world, that most of Florida is still dry, and it will be for many, many real-estate cycles to come.

Newcomers who might be queasy about purchasing waterfront property in South Beach or Fort Lauderdale should instead consider some of our inland gems like Sebring (where the average elevation is 131 feet above sea level), Haines City (182 feet) or Eustis (67 feet).

Let’s get out the word that it could be hundreds of years before Ocala (104 feet) is submerged. So come on down now and get your homestead exemption before you need a snorkel to find your homestead.

If you really want to play it safe, try beautiful Britton Hill, the highest point in Florida at 345 feet above sea level. It is way up in Walton County near the Alabama border, but at least you’ll still be on the map if Key Biscayne turns into a coral reef.

To concerned residents of greater Miami, Tampa Bay and Apalachicola — three areas singled out by the federal report as imperiled by rising water — here’s what I would say:

Open a paddleboard shop, people. Or an airboat taxi service.

Why not turn a negative situation into a positive opportunity? One person’s sinkhole is another person’s cave-spelunking franchise.

Come on, Florida, let’s get to work.

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, May 13, 2014

May 15, 2014 Posted by | Climate Change, Rick Scott | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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