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“Mollifying The Insurgents”: Contrary To Their Laughable Spin, That’s Basically Their Job Descriptions Of McConnell And Ryan

Congress has until a week from today to pass a spending bill or face another government shutdown. That means that Sen. Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan have their work cut out for them. The last thing they want is to have the American electorate watch them shut the government down as we head into a presidential election year. And yet the insurgent wing of their party has been pushing for the inclusion of several “riders” to the spending bill that Democrats oppose and President Obama has promised to veto. They include:

* Making changes to the refugee program that would basically eliminate Syrian and Iraqi refugees

* Defunding Planned Parenthood

* Repealing Obamacare

There has also been talk about riders that would roll back Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms and EPA’s environmental regulations.

One of the things McConnell and Ryan have been doing to forestall a shutdown is to bring up bills that include these items and allow votes on them separate from the spending bill. So as we saw in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attack, the House voted on the changes to the refugee program. There has still been some effort to include it in the spending bill, but as I mentioned recently, that push is starting to fade.

Last night McConnell pulled off a two-fer with a vote on a separate bill that would both defund Planned Parenthood and repeal significant parts of Obamacare. Since it was brought up under a process called “reconciliation,” Democrats couldn’t filibuster and so it required 51 votes to pass – it got 52. No one doubts that President Obama will veto the measure. So the spin Republicans are putting on this is fascinating.

Republicans hailed it as a political messaging victory and a fulfillment of their promise from the 2014 midterm election to force President Obama to veto the landmark healthcare reform law named after him.

A “political messaging victory?” Does that sound like the kind of thing their angry base is looking for? Ha-ha!

And someone is going to have to find a reference for that 2014 midterm election promise about forcing President Obama to veto a repeal of Obamacare. I’ve looked and can’t find where they said that. There was plenty of talk about actually repealing Obamacare. But forcing a veto…not so much.

All this drama is really about trying to find a way to mollify the insurgents in their party and get them to back off of attempts to shut the government down. In explaining some of the shenanigans McConnell had to pull off to get last night’s vote, Kevin Drum summed it up pretty well.

Politico has a fascinating story today. It’s all about Mitch McConnell’s months of LBJ-worthy maneuvering to get legislation passed that would repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood, thus paving the way for a clean budget bill later this year. But here’s the kicker: he wasn’t engaged in Herculean negotiations with Democrats. He was engaged in Herculean negotiations with his own party…

In today’s Washington, passing bills isn’t a matter of getting Republicans and Democrats to agree. They can usually manage that. The trick is somehow neutering the wingnut faction of the Republican Party. Once that’s done, negotiations between the two parties are (relatively speaking) a piece of cake. Welcome to 2015.

Over the net week, we’ll get to see if McConnell and Ryan have managed to mollify the insurgents. Contrary to their laughable spin, that’s basically their job description these days.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 4, 2015

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Government Shut Down, Mitch Mc Connell, Paul Ryan | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Congratulations Republicans!”: On Climate Change, Republicans Are Truly Exceptional

Speaking at the climate conference in Paris today, President Obama noted a way in which America is different from all other nations. Around the world, he said, concern about climate change “spans political parties.” Said Obama:

“I mean, you travel around Europe and you talk to leaders of governments and the opposition, and they are arguing about a whole bunch of things. One thing they’re not arguing about is whether the science of climate change is real and whether or not we’re going to have to do something about it.”

Nowhere else among the world’s major nations (and maybe the minor nations, too, though I don’t claim to be familiar with all 200 of them) is there a political party representing half the electorate which is adamantly opposed to doing anything to address climate change. So congratulations, Republicans: you have made America truly exceptional.

It’s important to note, however, that there is diversity of opinion within the GOP on this issue — to a point. At one end you have the denialists, who believe that climate change is not occurring at all. The people who believe this also tend to believe that the fact that it still snows in the winter constitutes proof that climate change isn’t happening, which shows the intellectual rigor they bring to this question. This group includes not only the notorious Sen. James Inhofe and a gaggle of less prominent congressional knuckleheads, but also presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee.

At the other end you have a few lonely Republican voices saying that climate change is a real problem that we should do something to address. Included in their number are two of the presidential candidates, Lindsey Graham and George Pataki. But the broad majority of the party’s elected officials fall into what we might call the uncertainty caucus. When you ask them whether climate change is happening, they say, “Maybe, sure, who knows?” Is it caused by human activity? “It’s possible, could be, how can we say for sure?” What should government do about it? “Absolutely nothing.” So while they might not sound as deranged as the denialists, their policy prescription is the same.

And while their argument in the past has always been that we can’t confront climate change because moving away from fossil fuels would destroy the economy, they’ve shifted their focus in recent weeks. Now when you ask the GOP presidential candidates about the issue, the response you’ll get is more likely to be, “How can we worry about climate change when ISIS is about to kill us all!!!” This is how the candidates have responded not just to President Obama’s belief in the seriousness of climate change, but to his mere attendance at the Paris conference, as if he should have instead stayed home to spend his time filling Americans with fear of terrorism.

“This is the president once again living in his fantasy world rather than the world as it actually is,” said Chris Christie with his characteristic contempt. “He really believes that folks are worried about climate change when what they really care about now is the Islamic State and Syria and terrorism.” Marco Rubio brought his perspective: “Let me just say no matter how you feel about the issue of the environment and climate and changes to climate, there’s no way any reasonable person could conclude that the most immediate threat we face to our security is what the climate is going to look like in 25 or 30 years.”

It’s easy to believe that terrorism is a greater threat to Americans than climate change, because everyone can conjure up a vivid and terrifying image of what terrorism looks like. And though there’s always the possibility that a future terrorist attack could kill large numbers of Americans, the actual number of Americans killed here at home by jihadi terrorists since 9/11 stands at 26, which, as I keep saying, also happens to be exactly the number of Americans killed this year alone by lightning strikes.

The deaths caused by climate change, on the other hand, are complicated to estimate with precision, don’t show up in YouTube videos, and don’t have the kind of dramatic violence that gets presidential candidates thumping their lecterns. But those deaths are real nonetheless. According to a 2012 report commissioned by the governments of 20 nations, climate change kills 400,000 people a year worldwide, mostly through hunger and the spread of communicable diseases. The World Health Organization estimates: “Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.”

You might say, well, that’s obviously terrible, but it really isn’t about national security. But the Department of Defense, not exactly a place where you find a lot of tree-hugging hippies, would beg to differ. Here’s how they described a recent report they produced on the topic:

The report reinforces the fact that global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. national security interests over the foreseeable future because it will aggravate existing problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions that threaten domestic stability in a number of countries.

The report finds that climate change is a security risk because it degrades living conditions, human security, and the ability of governments to meet the basic needs of their populations. Communities and states that are already fragile and have limited resources are significantly more vulnerable to disruption and far less likely to respond effectively and be resilient to new challenges.

In other words, climate change will produce the contexts in which threats to U.S. national security will fester and grow, which is just one of the reasons that the Republican policy position — do nothing — is so dangerous.

But here’s an interesting thing about that position: not only have they failed to persuade the American public that they’re right, they haven’t even persuaded their own voters. According to a new New York Times/CBS poll, not only does two-thirds of the public overall support the U.S. joining an international treaty to reduce carbon emissions — something that almost every Republican elected official vehemently opposes — but a healthy 42 percent of Republican voters support it as well, with 52 percent opposed. And a majority of Republicans said they’d support a policy to limit carbon emissions from power plants. That’s what President Obama’s Clean Power Plan does, and Republicans in Congress are desperately trying to kill it.

The rightward drift of the GOP during the Obama years is a complex story, with many different causes and effects. There are issues on which the party’s voters have gone right along with its leaders, producing a mass consensus that mirrors the elite consensus. But on climate change, it appears that the politicians’ ability to persuade their voters has been incomplete at best. Not that that means the politicians are going to change any time soon.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, December 1, 2015

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Climate Science, Paris Climate Conference | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The ‘Stone The Homos’ Guy”: Gay Sex-Obsessed Pastor Loves On Trump

Pastor James David Manning sat in front of a microphone at his cherry-red desk, a cartoon rendering of Harlem serving as the backdrop in his makeshift TV studio. He wore a gray windowpane three-piece suit, a purple shirt with a white collar that his double chin spilled onto, and a shiny, gold tie.

“I wanna take the time to address those who are supporters of one Mr. Donald Trump,” he said into the camera for his latest installment of The Manning Report. “One of the wisest, most patient, humble, gracious—yet strongest leader I have ever encountered in all the days of my life.”

Manning likes Trump, in case he didn’t make it clear, and it’s not hard to understand why.

Manning likes Trump for the same reason Alex Jones and his ilk like Trump. Manning likes Trump for the same reason white supremacists like Trump.

Manning likes Trump because Trump hates, just like he does.

Trump hates enough that Manning formally endorsed his candidacy on Monday, during a meeting at Trump Tower with other black pastors that Trump had courted. Trump seems to be under the impression that befriending Men of God like Manning is going to make him seem like less of a racist.

Maybe Trump should’ve Googled him.

“I realize that I am a lightning rod,” Manning had admitted on Wednesday’s episode of The Manning Report. “I use language people don’t like. I call people faggots. I call people niggers. I call people white trash. I call people crackers. And I will continue to. I’m not going to stop.”

“But I recognize that because of that, one could easily say, ‘Well, you know, Trump is aligned with James David Manning and James David Manning is known for hating black people or white people,” he said. “But that doesn’t stop me from offering my support, or more specifically, from offering a word of enlightenment to the people in the Harlem Community.”

Pastor James David Manning runs ATLAH Worldwide Missionary Church on 36 West 123rd Street in New York City. ATLAH, which stands for “All the Land Anointed Holy,” is more hate group than parish. Outside the red-bricked building is a hexagonal sign that is used to send messages like, “WHEN THE HOMOS BULLIED THE POOR AND NEEDY IN SODOM LIKE THEY DO IN HARLEM JESUS FIRE & BRIM – STONED THEM” or “OBAMA HAS RELEASED THE HOMO DEMONS ON THE BLACK MAN. LOOK OUT BLACK WOMAN. A WHITE HOMO MAY TAKE YOUR MAN.”

He thinks President Obama is literally “the son of Satan” and that gay people should be stoned to death. Starbucks, he says, flavors their coffee with “sodomites’ semen.”

I sat down with Manning in September 2014 for a wide-ranging interview. I learned that he is as obsessed with publicity as he is gay sex. His office, where he films his YouTube videos, is so jam-packed with lights and wires and cameras that you can barely walk in it. He proudly advertises the fact that he is known in the media (or, the “dung-head media” to quote Manning) as the “Hate Pastor.”

He explained to me, with all the certainty in the world, that homosexuality is wrong because of science.

“Everything in the universe condemns homosexuality,” he said. “There’s opposites in the universe. There’s light, there’s dark. There’s moon, there’s suns around it. There’s planets and there’s galaxies. The same basic physics principles that exist here on earth exist in the universe. You have the atom, which has the neutron, the electron, the proton. So through that process, energy is developed. This is pretty consistent throughout the entire universe. The only thing in the universe that believes that one of one thing is sufficient are homosexuals.”

At the time, Manning sounded nuts. Now, what he said sounds like something Trump or Ben Carson might say at a rally and double down on in a Meet the Press appearance.

Manning’s secretary told me Wednesday that he didn’t have anything to say to me about Trump, and that I should just watch The Manning Report to understand why he supports him.

Two weeks after Trump announced his candidacy in June, Manning released an installment of The Manning Report titled, “More Power To Donald Trump.”

At the time, Trump was just rising in the polls, and Manning said he could explain why. “What is happening now with the liberal media—they are all Obama-ized, they are all demonized, they are all demons,” Manning said. Trump was the only one who knew the Truth and wasn’t afraid to say it.

“Donald Trump, the reason why people are resonating with Donald Trump is because Donald Trump is not afraid of Obama,” he said.

“Donald Trump is the only person that is running for president who knows that Obama is a flat-out communist, socialist, not born in America unconstitutional. Everybody knows that and that’s why Donald Trump can win the presidency if he wants it.”

After his meeting with Trump, he bragged on The Manning Report, “I sat at the table with Donald Trump on yesterday,” (on yesterday), “Let me tell you what I perceived about this man: Donald Trump is a gracious man. He sat for two and a half hours with black church people—black pastors, from different denominations—and kept his composure never once in the midst of them begging him to bow down to black people, never once lost his composure. Two and a half hours patiently and he expressed interest in what every person—if someone said something, he was interested! I’ve got to tell you that takes a lot when you listen to idiots and stupid people! When they’re espousing stupid stuff!”

To show his devotion, Manning said, “I want to start a campaign of Harlem For Trump is what I wanna do…His message is what Harlem needs to hear.”

Asked if Trump had heard Manning’s message, and if he, too, believes Obama is literally Satan’s spawn, his campaign didn’t reply.

Tune in next week, when Trump spots a UFO.


By: Olivia Nuzzi, The Daily Beast, December 3, 2015

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hate Groups, James David Manning, White Supremacists | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Unleashing Common Jewish Stereotypes”: Donald Trump To Republican Jews; You Can’t Buy Me

Donald Trump’s speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition this morning was a sober-minded and detailed analysis of the security threats Israel faces and the most effective way to eliminate the Islamic State.

Haha, just kidding!

He spent most of the time talking about how Jews are good negotiators and then saying they wouldn’t support him because they couldn’t buy him. A wild, stereotype-filled ride from start to finish, yes, indeed.

The Republican presidential frontrunner kicked off his talk by doing the obvious thing and talking up his poll numbers, as one does, and saying Obama “is the worst thing that’s ever happened to Israel.”

He also sought to connect with the Jewish audience by touting his business experience.

“I’m a negotiator like you folks,” he said.

Like other candidates, he criticized the president’s negotiating abilities on the Iran deal. But unlike other candidates, he suggested the president’s decision not to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” means he is likely harboring a dark secret.

“I’ll tell you what, we have a president that refuses to use the term,” Trump said. “He refuses to say—there’s something going on with him that we don’t know about.”

The line drew immediate, noisy applause. It isn’t the first time Trump has floated curious theories about Obama’s origins; he became a Tea Party darling by vociferously questioning whether the president was born in America. He told Fox News in 2011 that secret religious beliefs might explain the president’s alleged caginess about his birthplace (Hawaii, btw).

Perhaps the most curious part of the speech—which is really saying something—came when he suggested the Jewish audience wouldn’t support him because they couldn’t control him through donations.

“I don’t want your money, therefore you’re probably not gonna support me,” he said.

“Trump doesn’t want our money, therefore we can’t—” he continued, launching into an imagined dramatic inner monologue of what the audience must be thinking, “Even though he’s better than all these guys, even though he’s gonna do more for Israel than anybody else, even though Bibi Netanyahu asked me to do a commercial for him and I did and he won his race, I was very happy.”

That sentence, you will notice, includes both the first and third persons—really terrific. His mention of Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, drew more applause. And he didn’t really make his point.

But a few minutes later in the speech, he found himself back at the same idea: mulling over whether the audience would be able to support him even if he didn’t take campaign contributions that would make them his assumed puppet masters.

“You know, you’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money,” he said, drawing audience laughter.

The stereotype of Jews using their money to insidiously manipulate global politics is an old one, as Anti-Defamation League founder Abraham Foxman detailed in his book Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype. He notes that anti-Israel Middle Eastern groups often use the ugly stereotype “to claim that Israel’s survival reflects not its moral status as a nation among nations but rather the manipulation of world opinion and, especially, of U.S. policy by wealthy, self-interested Jews.”

Later in his ramble, Trump suggested Jeb Bush’s acceptance of campaign contributions means his donors control him.

“He raised $125 million, which means he’s controlled totally, totally controlled, by the people who gave him the money,” he said.

This has been a theme throughout the mogul’s campaign. He’s argued repeatedly that other candidates are beholden to their donors and won’t prioritize the country’s best interests because of their muddied loyalties.

Trump, without saying it directly, made it clear that his loyalties will remain where they have always been: to himself.


By: Betsy Woodrull, The Daily Beast, December 3, 2015

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Islamophobia, Israel, Jewish Voters | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Will We Do After The Next Slaughter?: Shut Up About San Bernardino, Because There’s Nothing Left To Say

The right and the left have both issued verdicts on what not to say after a mass shooting.

The right ridicules calls for gun-safety measures. The left mocks what it perceives to be hollow nostrums about “thoughts and prayers.” I think they’re both right. I think it’s time to say nothing at all.

I realized this when I discovered the most trenchant thing I’d read about San Bernardinonoting that Sandy Hook didn’t begin a national conversation about guns so much as end it—was actually written about the murders at the Emanuel AME Church.

There is no way to overdramatize the speed with which San Bernardino followed Colorado Springs; it happened too fast for hyperbole. There wasn’t even time for an idea to be proposed, much less fail. Columns written about Richard Dear are still being published even as we hunt for answers about the massacre farther west.

Sure, the particular gruesomeness of this crime—at a center for the disabled—seems like it might be enough to…what? What about this crime will shove the graceless leviathan of our national consciousness from the sludge-gummed track we’ve developed to deal with what should be unspeakable, unthinkable, at very fucking least rare?

In the hours after the California killings, heavy traffic crashed a mass shooter database. Which is more horrifying—that so many people needed the information, or that there was so much information to be had?

We have reached the point where mass shootings have a “news consumer handbook,” where the most helpful journalistic tool in covering a killing isn’t local sources so much as search-and-replace: Newsweek reporter Polly Mosendz keeps a pre-written mass shooter story fresh in her text editing files. “A mass shooting has been reported at TK, where TK people are believed to be dead and TK more are injured, according to TK police department,” it says. “The gunman has/hasn’t been apprehended.”

So I propose a columnist strike, a hot take moratorium, a sound-bite freeze. The only response that could possibly match this gut-punching tragedy isn’t made up of words but silence.

I envision blank blog posts, empty sets, magazine pages slick and white from edge to edge. I want to open up The Washington Post or The New York Times and find the grainy gray of naked newspaper stock in place of columnists’ prose.

Let’s fill Twitter with dead space and leave Facebook with a total absence of “likes.”

Let the cable talking heads mute themselves.

Hear in that noiselessness the echo all the prayers and the pleas, all the policy proposals and screeds that were written about the last mass shooting, and the one before that and the one before the one before that. Hear the thundering clap of absolute inaction in Congress, and the crazed, giddy titter of those loosening gun laws state by state. Hear the voices that don’t speak, that can’t, the conversations some families will never get to have.

What I want is not a “national moment of silence,” nor really a prayer. I don’t wish to summon contemplation or reflection but choking sobs and knotted throats. I want to share with the world the wordless groan that is the only prayer the grieving have.

I want a strike, a shutdown, a refusal to move. Not just inaction as a pause—rather, stillness as an action in itself.

I don’t think what I want to happen actually can happen, not in this world. The media machine inexorably churns and, less reflexively, our mutual ache and mourning demands recognition on screens and off.

Then again, our suspension of discussion doesn’t have to last forever. I don’t want to create a vacuum so much as create awareness about how much has already been said.

There’s nothing left to say, so let’s just not say it.

I write this, my fingers cold and my heart broken and hesitating before I press “send.” If I publish this column now, if I let this idea into the world after this slaughter…Why, then, what will we do after the next?


By: Ana Marie Cox, The Daily Beast, December 3, 2015

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Congress, Mass Shootings, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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