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“A Longstanding Framework”: What The Republican Party’s New, Unspeakably Racist Attack Ad Is Really About

The National Republican Congressional Committee wants you to believe that Nebraska state Sen. Brad Ashford, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), unleashed a very scary looking black man on the people of Nebraska to commit multiple murders. That’s the message conveyed by an ad they posted on their YouTube page on Friday, which focuses on a series of high profile murders committed by a man who had recently been released from prison on unrelated charges:

The reality, however, is far more nuanced than the narrative presented by this ad. And the events that led up to these murders have very little to do with Ashford.

Nikko Jenkins is a severely mentally ill man who was previously incarcerated on robbery and assault charges. A prison psychiatrist diagnosed him with schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, and labeled him “one of the most dangerous people I have ever evaluated.” While he was incarcerated, Jenkins repeatedly told prison officials that he “planned a violent, murderous rampage upon his release.” Less than a month after he was released from prison in 2013, Jenkins carried out his threats, killing four people in Omaha.

Jenkins believes that he was ordered to kill by Apophis, an evil, ancient Egyptian serpent god. A report by the Nebraska State Ombudsman’s Office criticized state prison officials for not attempting to have Jenkins committed due to his mental illness once it became clear that it was not safe to release him from prison.

The NRCC’s ad, however, tells a very different story. In the GOP’s narrative, “Nikko Jenkins was released from prison early, after serving only half his sentence” thanks to a law that Ashford supports.

The law at issue is the state’s “good time” law, which has existed in various forms for nearly half a century. Under the good time law’s framework, prisoners earn “good time” for the time that they spend in prison, and this good time is counted against the time that they need to serve behind bars. Meanwhile, prisoners who commit various offenses can lose their good time — Jenkins for example, lost 18 months of good time for offenses that included an assault upon a prison guard. Thus, the law gives prison officials some flexibility to release inmates who behave well while incarcerated, while requiring other prisoners to serve more time.

Under a 1992 amendment to the good time law that overwhelmingly passed the state legislature, prisoners earn one day of good time for each day they spend in prison — that’s the likely basis for the GOP’s claim that Jenkins served “only half his sentence” (Ashford was a member of the state legislature when this amendment was enacted, but he was not present for the vote). In 2011, the state’s Republican Gov. Dave Heineman successfully lobbied the legislature to increase the amount of good time earned by inmates even further. This 2011 amendment was proposed by Heineman’s own Corrections Department. Ashford cosponsored this bill.

In the wake of the Jenkins incident, Heineman has reversed course, and he now wants to make it harder for inmates to earn good time. He’s also attacked the Ombudman’s report which suggested that the Corrections Department was at fault for freeing Jenkins. Ashford, by contrast, has defended the report — though he also endorsed Gov. Heineman’s decision to increase the amount of good time corrections officials can take away from inmates who commit serious offenses.

So the reality is that Nebraska has a longstanding framework of relatively long prison sentences that are moderated by the good time law. Ashford has only played a minor role in shaping this framework, and the 2011 amendment that Ashford co-sponsored enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the state’s GOP governor. There is now an important debate going on in Nebraska about whether the state’s good time law should be amended once again, as Heineman argues, or whether the errors which led to Jenkins being released are best addressed within the Corrections Department, as Ashford appears to believe.

But it is absurd to suggest, as the GOP ad does, that Ashford is responsible for Jenkins’ release and the tragedy that soon followed. If his support for the state’s good time law makes Ashford responsible for Jenkins’ crimes, then Heineman and numerous other state lawmakers share that blame.

 

By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, October 17, 2014

October 19, 2014 Posted by | NRCC, Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Republicans Embrace Their Phoniness”: The Truth Is Catching Up To Them

The Republican Party has finally admitted what has been fairly obvious for much of the past six years: It produces fake news.

This is not an earth-shattering revelation to anybody who has been paying attention, but, still, it’s an important step for the party to embrace the phoniness.

NRCC Launches Fake News Sites to Attack Democratic Candidates” was a headline in the National Journal on Tuesday.

As Shane Goldmacher reported, “The National Republican Congressional Committee, which came under fire earlier this year for a deceptive series of fake Democratic candidate websites that it later changed after public outcry, has launched a new set of deceptive websites, this time designed to look like local news sources.”

These two dozen sites, with names such as “North County Update” and “Central Valley Update” look like political fact-checking sites; the NRCC’s spokeswoman, Andrea Bozek, called it “a new and effective way to disseminate information.”

An NRCC official told me the sites are legal because, if you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll find, “Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee” in small print. “They’re not fake Web sites,” the official said. “These are real attack Web sites.”

Real attacks, but fake news: This is a fairly accurate summary of what the GOP’s scandalmongers have been purveying during the Obama years.

There was the assertion that the White House was covering up high-level involvement in Operation “Fast and Furious,” a gun program under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives that went awry. No evidence was found.

There was the accusation that the Obama White House pushed through money for Solyndra to pay the president’s political cronies even though officials knew the solar-energy firm was going bankrupt. Didn’t happen that way.

Accusation: Obamacare would bring about the collapse of the American health-care system and replace it with socialized medicine and death panels. No such thing has occurred.

The IRS scandal, it was alleged, could be traced back to the White House, which targeted Obama’s enemies for political reasons. Nope.

The actual truth of the allegations doesn’t matter. Each one sullied President Obama’s name, and investigators’ failure to deliver the goods did little to remove the taint. That’s why fake news works: Falsehoods can drive a president’s approval rating into the cellar while the truth is still getting out of bed.

And now we have the Benghazi exoneration.

For nearly two years, Republicans have been alleging all manner of scandal involving the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in the Libyan city. That somebody — Hillary Clinton? — issued a stand-down order to prevent help from getting to American officials under fire; that Clinton rejected pleas for more diplomatic security in Libya; and that the Obama White House pushed false talking points to play down the terrorist attacks before the election.

The accusations have been roundly debunked, most recently in military officers’ testimony released by the GOP-controlled House Armed Services Committee.

Now there’s a bipartisan report, adopted unanimously by the GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee on July 31, awaiting declassification by the administration. It throws yet another bucket of cold water on the conspiracy theories. In a statement, the top Democrat on the panel, Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), said the report finds that:

“[T]here was no intelligence failure surrounding the Benghazi attacks.”

“[T]here was no ‘stand down order’ given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, and no American was left behind.”

“[T]he talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis.”

“[T]here was no illegal activity or illegal arms sales occurring at the U.S. facilities in Benghazi.”

“And there was absolutely no evidence, in documents or testimony, that the intelligence community’s assessments were politically motivated in any way.”

The report is not yet public, and Republican sources indicate that there is more disagreement in the report than Ruppersberger’s statement indicates and that the report is not as exculpatory as he implies. But there has been no challenge from the Republican side to the accuracy of the findings Ruppersberger detailed in his statement.

Now that the truth is catching up to them, House Republicans will need to stay one step ahead. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the select committee on Benghazi, told CNN’s Deirdre Walsh last week that, despite what the Intelligence Committee found, “there is more work to be done and more to be investigated.”

Excellent. Maybe he can post his phony accusations on some fake news Web sites.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, August 13, 2014

August 18, 2014 Posted by | NRCC, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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