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

“Four Days Til Stupidity Erupts”: Contradicting The Narrative That The GOP Was All Grown Up And Muzzled Its Tea Party Faction

So the expiration of appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security approaches in just four days, and there’s no sign yet that Republicans are going to be able to figure out how to back down from their demands for cancellation of the President’s executive actions on immigration without looking weak to the Almighty Base.

This is all kinds of stupid for a number of reasons, including (a) the conflict with GOP Chicken Little rhetoric over homeland security threats; (b) the fact that the portion of DHS that actually enforces immigration laws would be largely unaffected since it operates on fees rather than appropriations; (c) as of the moment, the offending 2014 immigration executive order has been suspended pending judicial review; and (d) this gives Democrats a huge, huge political gift while contradicting the dominant media narrative of 2014 that the GOP was all grown up and had muzzled its Tea Party faction.

Point this out to your average conservative activist and you’ll generally hear mumbling about the Constitution, various forms of denial that anyone will care, and/or the classic ex post facto argument that being stupid on a government shutdown didn’t keep Republicans from doing very well in 2014. I guess the prospective argument would be that Republicans can and should keep doing egregiously stupid things until they lose an election, which could happen in a little over nineteen months. What you won’t hear are many predictions this strategem will actually work to change public policy. So it’s all about posturing, and that’s never a good sign for a serious political party.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 23, 2015

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Dept of Homeland Security, GOP, Government Shut Down | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“When A ‘Gotcha’ Question Is More Than A Gotcha”: When It Reveals Something Worth Knowing About Scott Walker

I’m no fan of John McCain’s (to say the least), but there was at least one moment in his 2008 presidential campaign in which he did the right thing by standing up to the crazies in his party, even if it might have meant some political risk. At an event just before the election, a voter stood up and said “I can’t trust Obama…he’s an Arab,” to which McCain replied, “No ma’am, he’s a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with.”

Seven years later, Republican voters are still convinced that Barack Obama is The Other, an alien presence occupying an office he doesn’t deserve. He might say that he was born in the United States, he might say that he’s a Christian, he might say that he loves the country he leads, but they know better. And if you want their favor, so many Republican politicians think, you’d better indulge their fears and resentments and bigotries.

In order to do so, it isn’t necessary to actually agree with them on these matters. You can just admit to uncertainty, say you aren’t quite sure who Obama is and what he believes. That’s the path Scott Walker took over the weekend when he was asked by the Washington Post about Obama’s religion:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective Republican presidential contender, said Saturday he does not know whether President Obama is a Christian.

“I don’t know,” Walker said in an interview at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington, where he was attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Told that Obama has frequently spoken publicly about his Christian faith, Walker maintained that he was not aware of the president’s religion.

“I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that,” Walker said, his voice calm and firm. “I’ve never asked him that,” he added. “You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?”

Barack Obama has been president of the United States for six years. He talks about his Christian faith quite regularly. He sometimes goes to church. As you might recall, there was quite a controversy back in 2008 about his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Are we supposed to believe that Scott Walker is genuinely unsure of Obama’s religious affiliation? I guess it’s technically possible for a politically aware and active person in 2015 to not know the answer to that question, in the same sense that it’s technically possible for a lifelong and ardent basketball fan to be unsure what position Shaquille O’Neal played. It could be true, but the person would have to be suffering from some unfortunate brain disorder, perhaps involving having had a metal spike penetrate their skull.

So let’s not bother pretending that Scott Walker doesn’t actually know that Obama’s a Christian. Walker could have said, “He’s a Christian, of course. We all know that. Now let me tell you what I think he’s done wrong.” But Walker also surely knows that had he said that, he’d be showing a willingness to puncture at least one prejudice held by an alarming number of GOP primary voters. That might win him some plaudits in Washington, but it probably wouldn’t get him too many votes in Iowa.

After his interview, a spokesperson contacted the Post reporters to clarify, saying: “Of course the governor thinks the president is a Christian.” Not that I want to read too much into one word, but the fact that she said her boss “thinks” Obama is a Christian would put Walker in line with what has become a tradition among Republican politicians when it comes to these questions. Whether it’s Obama’s religious affiliation or his American citizenship, Republican after Republican has treated the question not a matter of fact but of belief. As John Boehner said in 2011, “I believe that the president is a citizen. I believe the president is a Christian, I’ll take him at his word.” In other words, he might be an American and a Christian, he might not be, there’s no way to know for sure, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. By sheer coincidence, Mitch McConnell said not long before, “The president says he’s a Christian. I take him at his word.”

To understand how weird this formulation, imagine you heard Boehner or McConnell say, “I’ll take Chuck Schumer at his word that he’s Jewish,” or “Jeb Bush says he was born in Texas, so that’s what I’ll believe.” But you’d never hear them say that.

I’m sure that Walker and his supporters think this was an unfair “gotcha” question to ask. About that, they’re half right. On one hand, there are many more important topics to query Scott Walker about than this one, and we can hope that we’ll get to as many as possible over the course of the long campaign. On the other hand, this isn’t the kind of inane question so many candidates are subjected to, like whether they prefer Elvis to Johnny Cash or deep dish to thin crust—actual questions CNN’s John King asked Republican candidates at a debate in 2011. This question does actually reveal something worth knowing about Walker, because it’s rooted in today’s Republican Party.

It tells us that Walker is (as yet anyway) unwilling to stand up to the Republican primary electorate’s ample population of lunatics, the people who think Barack Obama is a Mooslem Marxist foreigner enacting his secret Alinskyite plan to destroy America. Depending on which poll you read, those people may constitute a majority of Republican voters. Walker is either afraid to alienate them, or perhaps he genuinely shares many of their beliefs. This isn’t about whether you’re a “real” conservative; you can be emphatically right-wing on every policy issue but still be tethered enough to reality not to get seduced by conspiracy theories and fantasies of Obama’s otherness.

Many knowledgeable people thought Scott Walker had great potential as a presidential candidate even before he began his recent rise in the polls. Perhaps more than any of the GOP contenders, he looked like a person who could bridge the party’s key divide, between the pragmatic establishment that supplies the money and the decidedly less reasonable grassroots that supplies the troops. Walker is both an enemy of labor unions and an evangelical Christian himself (if he becomes president, Walker will be the first evangelical in the office since Jimmy Carter; contrary to popular belief, George W. Bush is not an evangelical). While he’s still unfamiliar to most of the country, Walker is the the kind of candidate that the Koch brothers and the tea party protester with a sign accusing Obama of being a communist can both get excited about.

So it’s important to know just how much he represents each of those groups, both in policy and in spirit. He just offered us one important clue. It won’t be the last.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, February 23, 2015

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Birthers, Scott Walker | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Clowns, Stunts, And Acrobatics”: The ‘Traveling Circus’ The RNC Can’t Stop

Nearly two years ago, with his party still licking its wounds after a rough 2012 cycle, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus looked ahead to the 2016 presidential race and focused on a specific goal: far fewer debates.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Friday he was trying to stop the party’s primary process from transforming into a “traveling circus.”

“Quite frankly, I’m someone – I don’t think having our candidates running around in a traveling circus and doing 23 debates, slicing and dicing each other is in the best interests of our party,” Priebus said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

There’s little doubt that Priebus’ concerns were rooted in fact. The 2012 debates for the Republican presidential candidates were often entertaining, but they didn’t do any favors for the aspirants themselves. When the Republican National Committee sharply curtailed the total number of debates for the 2016 race – and prioritized events on Fox – it didn’t come as a surprise.

But as the Republicans’ presidential field takes shape, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the “traveling circus” is not wholly dependent on debates – a circus needs clowns, stunts, and acrobatics, and the likely 2016 candidates are already providing plenty of antics for our viewing pleasure.

* The entire party is facing a curious new litmus test about whether President Obama is a patriot and a Christian. It’s a test Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is failing badly.

* This comes on the heels of a vaccinations litmus test that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) failed – one of many key issues the senator doesn’t seem to understand.

* Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is desperate to prove he’s his “own man” by hiring his brother’s and his father’s team of advisers, and advancing his ambitions with his brother’s and his father’s team of donors.

* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) operation appears to be moving backwards – his vaccinations flub didn’t help – as his popularity falls quickly in his home state.

* Right-wing neurosurgeon Ben Carson (R) has positioned himself as a rare candidate who supports war crimes.

* The closer Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) gets to launching his campaign, the more some party officials plead with him not to run.

* Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) wants states to pursue nullification if the Supreme Court endorses marriage equality.

* Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) seems eager to say and/or do anything to get attention.

* A variety of GOP candidates have set up private meetings with Donald Trump.

The Greatest Show on Earth? Probably not, though it’s clear the “traveling circus” is well underway, and there’s very little Reince Priebus can do about it.

The problem isn’t the debates, per se. Rather, it’s the candidates themselves who run the risk of embarrassing themselves and their party. As the last few weeks have reminded us, they don’t need a debate platform to cause trouble.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 23, 2015

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Reince Priebus | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Dangers Of Another Bush In The White House”: Jeb Bush Conveniently Started Promoting Fracking After Investing In It

The more we learn about Jeb Bush, the more less he appears ready for primetime:

“Some states, like yours here in New York, are choosing not to grow. They won’t approve fracking,” Bush said, his veiled shot at Cuomo drawing roars of approval from Republicans gathered at a Sheraton in Manhattan. “Meanwhile, in parts of New York where huge opportunities exist for the restoration of economic activity, people languish.”

Bush left unmentioned that fracking in the Marcellus Shale beneath the New York-Pennsylvania border also presented a big opportunity for himself.

One of his private equity enterprises at that time was raising $40 million to back a Denver-based company acquiring fracking wells in hopes New York would lift its ban. The company, Inflection Energy, has active leases in Pennsylvania, and one of Bush’s equity partners sits on the board. He also has fracking ties through a separate business with both of his sons.

The intersection between Bush’s private and public life — calls for fracking have been a part of his speeches and came as recently as last month in San Francisco — triggers questions of disclosure.

It’s not just that fracking is a horrid, unpopular practice. It’s that the self-dealing in this case is so obvious it will confirm voters’ suspicions about the dangers of putting another Bush in the White House. One of the less highlighted but most damaging subtexts of the Bush Administration was the number of members of the Bush White House who were invested in moneymaking schemes directly profiting off the invasion of Iraq, not least of them being Dick Cheney and Halliburton.

With Jeb Bush hiring the same foreign policy advisors, ramping up rhetoric for war with Iran and evidently engaged in self-dealing over oil in his speeches, the same suspicions will arise with him. As well they should.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, February 23, 2015

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Fracking, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“… And Justice For All”: The Rule Of Law Defines Civilization And Underpins America’s Precious Democratic Experiment

I’m a little emotional about same-sex couples accepting Alabama Probate Judges’ time-honored offer to newlyweds “You may kiss”. These marriages are all the sweeter because when we were married by an Alabama Probate Judge three decades ago, it was a very different world. Sorta.

Those were the days of “I now pronounced you man and wife.” Unmistakably, a man was a man whatever his marital status. Once married, a woman was reduced to her role. We’d already warned the Judge off the the “obey” thing, but he informed us that another trip to the courthouse and a formal petition — fifty bucks, please — was required for me to reclaim my own surname. It had legally vanished with “I do”. It is a privilege to see justice finally promised to another oppressed group. And what additional satisfaction it is to have a front row seat, watching seemingly immovable traditions — reserving marriage for some, refusing it to others, arbitrarily elevating some over others — dissolving before the irresistible force of a Federal Judge’s orders overturning Alabama’s law banning same-sex marriage — celebration time.

A victory of this proportion is for everyone, a lesson on a grand scale. People died for these rights. Credit especially the martyred San Francisco Board of Supervisors Harvey Milk and his profound insight: “‘Coming out’ is the most political thing you can do.” When individuals risked everything to be true to themselves, debilitating stereotypes dissolved into the faces of our family members, neighbors, friends and coworkers. Millions shared the honor when Mr. Milk was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2009. Our world is improving because people were brave.

Would that the heroic reporter Dudley Clendinen had lived to see this turn of events. His Out for Good, which we explored with him in 1999, remains an important report on harsh realities still endured by too many homosexuals in the world and in America. The particulars of people’s private lives continue to elicit sensational and hate-filled reactions. Still.

Not surprising is the recalcitrance of the “Ten Commandments” Alabama Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore. Nor is this appalling defiance of the Federal Judge’s direct order out of character. In 2003, his own colleagues removed him from office for defying the law. What does it say for the voting majority in Alabama, that In 2012 they returned him to the same position?

I am amazed that half the judges in the State defied their Chief Justice. Perhaps they realized his argument is “so 1832”, dating back as it does to South Carolinian John C. Calhoun’s (and later the Confederacy’s) notion of “nullification“. Maybe those law-abiding Probate Judges didn’t want to be counted among the more recent neo-nullification gang: Orval Faubus, George Wallace, Lester Maddox and now, notably, the list includes the former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee (who’s also voiced suspicions about dancing).

Whatever their motivation, it’s a breath of fresh air that so many Alabama Probate Judges obeyed the Federal court order and married whomever chose that august and demanding path. This is all the more noteworthy given their Chief Justice’s recalcitrance, which carries the distinctive stench of oppression still lingering across America from white supremacists imposing equally noxious restrictions based on race as well as gender.

The rule of law defines civilization and underpins America’s precious (and precarious) democratic experiment. A less privileged individual would go to jail for the kind of defiance we are witnessing. A senior judge flagrantly breaking the law with apparent impunity is a sad spectacle, even in long-benighted Alabama.

Ultimately, justice will win out in a just polity. Still, it should not be necessary to overcome the willful injustice of atavistic elements of our judicial system.


By: Paula Gordon, The Blog, The HUffington Post, February 22, 2015



February 24, 2015 Posted by | Democracy, Marriage Equality, Roy Moore, Rule of Law | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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