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“Orrin Hatch Gives Away The Game”: Perfect Illustration Of GOP Obstruction The President Has Faced

This is priceless:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) hasn’t yet met with Supreme Court nominee Merrick B. Garland for what has been a long anticipated encounter between the former Judiciary Committee chairman and the federal appeals court judge he has long praised.

But when the meeting does happen, don’t expect Garland to succeed in convincing Hatch to support his nomination, because Hatch has already declared that it won’t.

“Like many of my Senate colleagues, I recently met with Chief Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court. … Our meeting, however, does not change my conviction that the Senate should consider a Supreme Court nominee after this presidential election cycle,” Hatch wrote in an op-ed published on the website of the Deseret News early Thursday morning and later removed. It remains available in a Google database.

This is the same Orrin Hatch who recommended that President Obama nominate Merrick Garland to replace John Paul Stevens when he retired back in 2010.

This is the same Orrin Hatch who said this less than one week before President Obama actually did nominate Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told Newsmax on Friday that President Obama wouldn’t nominate a “moderate” like Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the Utah senator was proven wrong.

“The President told me several times he’s going to name a moderate, but I don’t believe him,” Hatch told the conservative news site on Friday.

“[Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man,” he continued. “He probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election. So I’m pretty sure he’ll name someone the [liberal Democratic base] wants.”

Now he’s decided he won’t support a hearing for Garland and has actually written an opinion piece to rationalize his decision, and he’s done it before meeting with the judge.

This is a perfect illustration of the kind of obstruction the president has faced from the Republicans. I’m not sure I could ever find a more apt demonstration.

 

By: Martin Longman, Web Editor, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 26, 2017

May 27, 2016 Posted by | GOP Obstructionism, Merrick Garland, Orrin Hatch, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , | 1 Comment

“Stupid Pills”: The Politics of Fraudulent Dietary Supplements

One pill makes you smarter. One pill makes you thin. One pill makes you happy. Another keeps you energized. And so what if tests conducted by scientists in New York and Canada have found that the substances behind these miracle enhancements may contain nothing more than powdered rice or houseplants. If enough people believe they’ll be healthier, well, it’s a nice racket.

Nice, to the tune of $13 billion a year in sales. And here in Utah, which is to the dietary supplement business what Northern California is to marijuana, a huge industry has taken hold, complete with a network of doctors making unproven claims, well-connected lobbyists and entrenched politicians who keep regulators at bay.

If you want to know how we came to be a nation where everyone is a doctor, sound science is vilified and seemingly smart people distrust vaccinations, come to Utah — whose state flower should be St. John’s wort. Here, the nexus of quack pharma and industry-owned politicians has produced quite a windfall: nearly one in four dollars in the supplement market passes though this state.

We’re not talking drugs, or even, in many cases, food here. Drugs have to undergo rigorous testing and review by the federal government. Dietary supplements do not. Drugs have to prove to be effective. Dietary supplements do not.

These are the Frankenstein remedies — botanicals, herbs, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, dried stuff. They’re “natural.” They’re not cheap. And Americans pop them like Skittles, despite recent studies showing that nearly a third of all herbal supplements on the market may be outright frauds.

The labels say Ginkgo biloba, or ginseng, or St. John’s wort. But testing announced by the state of New York this week found that the Ginkgo biloba sold by Walmart, for example, contained no Ginkgo biloba DNA — it was a mixture of rice, mustard, wheat and radish.

Some of the country’s largest retailers are selling junk in a pill, a step removed from sawdust. Counting on the stupidity of consumers, the big chains don’t seem to care. As of Thursday, four days after Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general, asked retailers to pull the tested products from their shelves in his state, you could still go to Walmart online and buy the allegedly fraudulent products.

So, there is Spring Valley echinacea — with a bold label reading: Immune Health — selling for $8.98 a bottle on Walmart’s website. It comes with a handy “customer review,” touting an “Excellent quality product!” This about a substance that contained no echinacea, according to the attorney general.

Too bad it takes Canada, or the maverick work of someone like the New York attorney general, to get at the truth of this industry, because it is so well-insulated from federal government oversight. Schneiderman’s investigation was prompted by an article in The New York Times Science section, reporting on Canadian findings that some of the most popular supplements were nothing but cheap fillers.

To understand how we got here, you have to go back to 1994, when Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah midwifed through Congress a new industry protected from all but minimal regulation. It is also an industry that would make many of his closest associates and family members rich. In turn, they’ve rewarded him with sizable campaign contributions.

Even though serious illnesses, and some deaths are on the rise from misuse of these supplements, Hatch is determined to keep regulators at bay. “I am committed to protect this industry and the integrity of its products,” he told a gathering of potency pill-pushers and the like in Utah last fall.

In the past, Hatch has been remarkably blunt about helping his family and friends in the fake drug trade. “I do whatever they ask me to do many times because they’ve never asked me to do anything that is improper,” Hatch said in 2011. He was referring to the firm of his son, Scott Hatch, a longtime lobbyist for the supplement industry.

That’s the political side, an all-too-familiar story of mutual beneficiaries born in the halls of Congress. But what about the medical implications? These pills and powders can’t, by law, make specific claims to cure anything. So they claim to make you healthier. The consumer is left playing doctor, reading questionable assertions that course through the unfiltered garbage of the Internet.

“There’s a lot of wrong information out there,” warns the American Cancer Society, in its tutorial on these products. “Even for those who are usually well informed, it can be hard to find reliable information about the safe use and potential risks of dietary supplements.”

And there was this finding reported in the authoritative Annals of Internal Medicine: “Enough is enough: Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.” Oh, those elites at the American College of Physicians, what do they know?

So, the industry keeps growing, with 65,000 dietary supplements now on the market, consumed by nearly half of all Americans. The larger issue is mistrust of authority, a willful ignorance that knows no political side. Thus, right-wing libertarians promote a freewheeling market of quack products, while left-wing conspiracy theorists disdain modern medicine in favor of anything sold as “natural” or vaguely countercultural. These are some of the same people who will not vaccinate their children.

Everyone wants to live longer, to be happier, to have better sex. And, if you think you can do it without exercise, or eating enough vegetables, or getting regular sleep, there are a thousand pills for you, sold not far from the candy counter. It’s all based on the honor system. If you trust them, go buy some possibly Ginkgo biloba-free Ginkgo biloba, and thank Orrin Hatch for the unfettered right to be a sucker.

 

By: Timothy Egan, Contributing Op-Ed Writer, The New York Times, February 6, 2014

February 7, 2015 Posted by | Big Pharma, Dietary Supplements, Orrin Hatch | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Time To Amend The Constitution”: Orrin Hatch Is Third In Line To The Presidency!

The swearing-in of a new Congress is often marked by precipitous climbs and sudden tumbles. Last week, former Senate Minority Obstructionist Mitch McConnell realized his lifelong ambition of becoming majority leader; his rival Harry Reid backslid to his old role in the minority (though not before a less figurative fall sprinkled a little injury over the insult); and more than a dozen Republican senators took over as committee chairs, which contributed such marvelous ironies as global warming skeptic James Inhofe becoming America’s top gatekeeper for environmental legislation.

One of the most consequential changes, however, has passed virtually without comment. Coinciding with the rise of the new Republican majority in the upper chamber, Utah’s archconservative Senator Orrin Hatch is now the Senate president pro tempore. That means that he’s been transformed overnight from a minority-party graybeard to third in line to the presidency.

Most Americans probably didn’t realize that the good people of Beaver, Daggett, and Juab Counties had selected a possible future president for the rest of the country back in 2012, when they reelected Hatch to a seventh term. He is now the second Republican, behind Speaker John Boehner, in line to succeed the Democratic president and vice president in the event of their deaths, incapacitations, or resignations. Here is convincing proof, even more than the vice presidencies of Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle were, that the voters, our political parties, and America’s entire system of government don’t really take the issue of presidential succession seriously.

It almost never matters who the Senate president pro tempore is. The position is basically a constitutional quirk arising from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when the body occasionally had to call on a designated lawmaker to substitute for its normal presiding officer, the vice president. That function declined in importance over the last 60 years as veeps began to embrace a larger role outside the Senate. Thereafter a tradition arose to entrust the meager duties of the office (you get to sign legislation and administer oaths) to the longest-serving member of the majority party. That practice has frequentlyone might even argue necessarilyresulted in the appointment of enfeebled old men from small states, often not of the president’s own party, to a position just a few heartbeats away from the big office.

Hatch is 80 years old, and he takes over the job from the comparatively spry Pat Leahy, a 74-year-old from Vermont. The two presidents pro tempore before Leahy were Hawaii’s Daniel Inuoye and West Virginia’s Robert Byrd, both of whom died in office at the ages of 92 and 86, respectively. Keep in mind that the oldest president in history, Ronald Reagan, left the White House at 77 already showing signs of the Alzheimer’s disease that would swiftly put an end to his public life. It’s flatly dangerous to put men of such advanced years anywhere near the Oval Office without the kind of rigorous medical vetting that presidential candidates receive during campaigns; if they assumed control over the government, it would almost certainly occur during a time of national crisis that would tax their abilities to the extreme.

Even if Hatch’s health and faculties could be guaranteed, his ascent would still mean the retroactive disenfranchisement of tens of millions of Democratic voters nationwide in favor of a vastly smaller group of some 600,000 Hatch voters from his home statethis at a time when national unity would be of paramount importance. This is doubly true of Boehner, a perfectly capable man whose entire congressional district consists of less than 800,000 people.

It may seem fanciful (or morose) to speculate on the subject of succession. After all, no Speakers outside of The West Wing have risen to replace a fallen president, let alone Senate presidents pro tempore. But we’ve lived far more dangerously than we ought to be comfortable with. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln originated in a plot to decapitate the government by also killing the vice president and secretary of stateone that very nearly succeeded. To pick an example of more recent vintage, United Airlines Flight 93 came within a forty-minute flight delay of wrecking the United States Capitol or White House. After 9/11, the joint Brookings/AEI Continuity of Government Commission issued a set of recommendations to help our succession process better reflect an age of global threats that strike without warning. Its counselto cut congressional and more junior cabinet secretaries out of the picture, as well as establish protocols for the appointment of temporary members of Congress and the judiciaryhas gone thus far unheeded.

The group’s best suggestion was its most provocative: Instead of concentrating our entire crop of possible successors within the small area around Washington, where they are clearly vulnerable to a devastating act of terrorism, the president should select a small group of prominent Americans around the country who could be regularly briefed and prepared to step into power should the need arise. These figuresstate governors, former cabinet officials, or other successful government administratorscould even be put forward by candidates during a presidential election, giving the public the partial opportunity to review and approve the choices (and providing political reporters and strategists with even more fodder). In the name of prudence, democracy, and a better news cycle, we should implement this planand for the same reasons, we should get elderly, out-party members of Congress some other ceremonial job.

 

By: Kevin Mahnken, The New Republic, January 16, 2015

January 17, 2015 Posted by | Orrin Hatch, Presidential Succession, Senate President Pro Tempore | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Speaking Of Asses”: Senator Complains About ‘Dumbass Liberals’

I actually remember the way Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) used to be, back when he boasted about being a “square peg” – a label he used as a shorthand to say he doesn’t always fit in.

The Utah Republican used to actually see value in cooperating with people with whom he disagreed, working with Democrats, for example, on stem-cell research, the DREAM Act, and S-CHIP.

But then he threw it all away. As Amanda Terkel reported, Hatch’s remarks at the Federalist Society’s annual conference are a reminder of the kind of politician he’s become.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) came out swinging against Democrats Friday, telling a room of conservative lawyers that Republicans were ready to give the other party “a taste of their own medicine.”

“Frankly, I intend to win with our candidate for the presidency in 2016, and we will give them a taste of their own medicine,” said Hatch. “And we’re going to win. We’re going to win. These next two years are extremely important. Maybe the most important two years in our history.”

“I get a big kick out of them using the word ‘progressive,’” the senator said of Democrats. “My gosh, they’re just straight old dumbass liberals anyway.”

Classy.

It wasn’t too long ago that Hatch was positioned to become a rare statesman in Republican politics. But that was before his partisan Memorial Day tantrums, his occasional references to hitting people he doesn’t like, and his juvenile whining about “dumbass liberals.”

Those looking for GOP statesmanship will apparently have to look elsewhere.

On a related note, did you happen to catch Hatch’s remarks about immigration reform?

“Part of it is our fault. We haven’t really seized this problem. Of course, we haven’t been in a position to do it either, with Democrats controlling the Senate. I’m not blaming Republicans. But we really haven’t seized that problem and found solutions for it.” […]

“Frankly, I’d like to see immigration done the right way,” Hatch added. “This president is prone to doing through executive order that which he cannot do by working with the Congress, because he won’t work with us. If he worked with us, I think we could get an immigration bill through.”

For goodness sakes, does Orrin Hatch not remember the events of the last two years? With “Democrats controlling the Senate,” a comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform bill passed easily, and garnered the support of the business community, labor, law enforcement, immigration advocates, and the religious community. Republicans then killed it.

“I’m not blaming Republicans”? Why not? They’re the ones who chose to reject the legislation. They’re also the ones who promised a more partisan alternative, only to break their word.

“If he worked with us, I think we could get an immigration bill through.” President Obama did work with Congress, and helped rally support for a bipartisan bill. GOP lawmakers killed it anyway.

How is it possible Orrin Hatch doesn’t know this? For that matter, given the circumstances, shouldn’t he be slightly more circumspect about throwing around words such as “dumbass”?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 17, 2014

November 19, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, Orrin Hatch, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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