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

“A Gun-Toting, Citizens United–Loving Conservative”: GOP Fights For Hillary Clinton’s Right To Select SCOTUS Nominee

Many have accused Senate Republicans of embracing the nonexistent “Biden rule” and refusing to even hold hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee for purely political purposes. However, on Sunday, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan explained that nothing could be further from the truth.

In a video posted on Twitter, the House speaker earnestly outlined the made-up principle Republicans are fighting to uphold: The American people should get a chance to weigh in on Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement by selecting a new president (with a mere ten months left in office, President Obama, who was elected twice, doesn’t count).

Simply put: The #SCOTUS nomination is going to have to go to the American people in 2016.

— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) March 20, 2016

Okay, but lets say the GOP Establishment’s various election plots don’t pan out, and Hillary Clinton is elected president in November. Then during the real lame-duck session (not the entire last quarter of Obama’s second term), Senate Republicans would be willing to consider Judge Merrick Garland, the centrist white guy praised by Democrats and Republicans alike, right? Wrong. “That’s not going to happen,” Mitch McConnell told Fox News Sunday. “The principle is the same. Whether it’s before the election or after the election. The principle is the American people are choosing their next president, and their next president should pick this Supreme Court nominee.”

As Chris Wallace confirmed, that means that Senate Republicans would let Clinton make a nomination rather than holding a vote on Judge Garland. “I can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame-duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association, the National Federation of Independent Business that represents small businesses,” said the majority leader, attacking Garland’s judicial philosophy for the first time. “I can’t imagine that a Republican-majority Senate, even if it were assumed to be a minority, would want to confirm a judge that would move the court dramatically to the left.”

Clearly the smart (not to mention noble) move is to cross their fingers and hope that Clinton nominates a gun-toting, abortion-hating, Citizens United–loving conservative.


By: Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 21, 2016

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Mitch Mc Connell, Paul Ryan, Senate Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Presidential Leadership Gap”: Hillary Campaign Twitter-Trolls Bernie — And Rubio

The Hillary Clinton campaign posted an interesting tweet Thursday, seizing on a Republican attack line against President Obama in order to illustrate her own support for the president.

Let’s dispel with this fiction that @POTUS doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 11, 2016

This was, of course, the grammatically strange phrase that Marco Rubio delivered — and then repeated several times — at last weekend’s Republican debate in New Hampshire, where his fumbled performance caused his numbers in the state to crash all the way down to fifth place. (The tweet was not signed “-H,” which is used to indicate authorship by the candidate herself. Thus, it was apparently written by the campaign team.)

But the linked article from NBC News is not about Rubio — it’s about Hillary’s rival Bernie Sanders, whom she will face in a debate Thursday night. The headline: “Sanders: Obama Hasn’t Closed ‘Presidential Leadership Gap.’”

The piece concerns an interview that Sanders conducted with MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt. From NBC’s report:

“There’s a huge gap right now between Congress and the American people. What presidential leadership is about closing that gap,” he told MSNBC in an interview Wednesday that will air in full Thursday evening on “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.”

Asked if he believed President Obama had closed that gap, Sanders said: “No, I don’t. I mean, I think he has made the effort. But I think what we need, when I talk about a political revolution, is bringing millions and millions of people into the political process in a way that does not exist right now.”

The message from Clinton’s campaign is clear: She’s the one who has continuously supported President Obama, and is equipped to successfully carry on his programs in office. That theme will certainly be important for the upcoming Democratic contests in Nevada and South Carolina.


By: Eric Kleefeld, The National Memo, February 11, 2016

February 12, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Primary Debates, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Consistently Destructive GOP”: Shame On Us! Giving Still More Power To Such A Party

Shame on us, the American People.

Giving more power to a Republican Party that has has been blatantly indifferent to the good of the nation.

Never in American history has there been a party so consistently destructive in its impact on America. Indeed, it is hard to find an instance these past six years when the Republicans have even tried to be constructive, tried to address our national problems.

Never in American history has there been a party so consistently dishonest in its communications to the people.

To know of this unprecedented betrayal of the nation, we have no need of secret tapes or conspirators coming forward to testify. It has been there undisguised, right in front of our eyes.

Yet, yesterday, tens of millions of Americans who are unhappy with “Congress” for its record-setting failure to take care of the nation’s business voted for the party that deliberately worked to make Congress fail.


Shame on us, the Democratic Party.

Once again running timidly (2002, 2010), the Democrats have failed not only themselves but the nation.

Clearly, the American people need help in seeing the monstrosity the Republican Party has become. But the Democrats — either blind to that reality, or afraid to speak of it — did not give them that help.

The Democrats should have made this election about the Republicans’ betrayal of the nation, in choosing to make the government dysfunctional rather than seeking to solve the nation’s problems. This election should have been about the veritable wrecking crew that the once-respectable Republican Party has become.

The Democrats should have helped the American people see how wantonly the GOP has trampled upon the ideals and traditions of our American democracy.

But they didn’t. And now the Republican strategy of seeking more power for themselves by creating problems they can blame on their opponents has been rewarded.

We live in a time of great darkening.

If the people at the top of the Democratic Party are incapable of rescuing our democracy from (what FDR called) “the forces of selfishness and of lust for power,” we in the grassroots will need to find a way to take up the job ourselves.

See the evil. Call it out. Press the battle.

The stakes are just too high. Are we willing to work to save our democracy from this ongoing power grab from the plutocrats whose instrument the Republican Party has become? Are we willing to work to assure that our nation acts responsibly in the face of the mounting danger of environmental catastrophe from the disruption of our climate, which the Republican Party has made it dogma to deny?

If not, then shame on us.


By: Andy Schmookler, The Huffington Post Blog, November 5, 2014

November 6, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, GOP, Midterm Elections | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ebola And America’s Childish Narcissism”: We, As A Country, Have Never Been Good At Keeping Things In Perspective

I don’t start many columns like this, but kudos to Fox News and specifically host Shepard Smith for decimating this Ebola hysteria the other day. David Ignatius of The Washington Post picked up on Smith’s sentiment with an equally solid column. Ignatius quoted Smith thus: “Today, given what we know, you should have no concerns about Ebola at all. None. I promise. Unless a medical professional has contacted you personally and told you of some sort of possible exposure, fear not. Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and the television or read the fear-provoking words online.”

I’ll go them one better. It’s moments like this one that bring out the absolute worst in the media, some political figures, and, it must be said, a hell of a lot of regular people, too—all of which is to say, the country. America is a narcissistic and inward-looking society at the best of the times. At the worst of times, it’s something even worse; a country with utterly no understanding of the pain and struggle and banal, recurrent death that the rest of the world lives with on a daily basis. So not only should we not panic, but beyond that, instead of turning ever-more inward, this Ebola moment should be precisely the time when we pause and look around the globe and realize how insignificant (though yes of course tragic on their own terms) three deaths are.

In the amount of time it probably took you to read the above two paragraphs, two African children died of malaria. That’s one every 30 seconds, every minute, every hour, every day, every month, every grinding year. And this constitutes a bit of an improvement over 10 or 20 years ago. Many of these children are under five years old. Such an abattoir would never be permitted to continue in the United States, or indeed the developed (and white) world. It would be very wrong of course to say the world does nothing about it. Many amazing people devote their lives to changing this, but somehow it does not change enough, and in recent years the malaria situation has been made even worse by what is to me the single most despicable human activity I’ve ever heard of in my life this side of the gas chambers—the sale of fake anti-malarial drugs for profit.

Want to worry about children? Read the speech given Thursday in the United Arab Emirates by Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Half of the world’s millions of refugees are children, and they live lives of wretched, numbing upheaval and violence. Guterres: “We know that refugee children are at increased risk of child labor and recruitment, and more vulnerable to violence in their homes, communities, or schools, including sexual and gender-based violence. This is one of the reasons, along with financial difficulties, why more and more refugee parents agree to marry off their daughters as children.”

Queen Raina of Jordan also spoke, calling the refugee crisis in Syria “a slap in the face of humanity.” And, she might well have added, of her country, and of Lebanon, both of which have taken in millions of Syrians, placing burdens on those countries’ infrastructures that Americans couldn’t begin to imagine. Lebanon’s Syrian refugee population is equal to 25 percent of its native population. Could you imagine the United States taking in a like number of Latin American refugees? That would be 75 million people! Our right wing went absolutely ballistic this past summer over 60,000 kids, who came here for reasons we helped create. There is all this churning violence out there of which probably 90 percent of Americans are barely aware. In so much of the world, death and violence are just normal parts of life. And to the response “tough, that’s their problem,” there are at least three good retorts.

The first is that we shouldn’t be so holier than thou, because it wasn’t really that long ago in historical terms that death and violence were normal parts of American life as well. This was an extremely dark and brutal (and insalubrious) country well into the 20th century. It was only really after World War II, after the spread of the general prosperity, that violent death and disease were checked in most of the United States. Vast pockets of both continued to exist well after that—in Appalachia and the inner cities, for example—and some exist still. So our “right” to feel smug about these kinds of things is rather new.

Second, we can’t fail to acknowledge that we played a role in making some of this violence happen. It’s unquestionably true with respect to the countries of Central America whence the border-crisis kids were arriving in June. It’s also undeniably the case in Iraq, where our war created millions of refugees and is still doing so (1.2 million so far this year alone, according to the UNHCR). Where our culpability isn’t that direct—Egypt, say, or Gaza—there are regimes imposing violence on helpless people that obviously could not do so without American billions.

Third, well, I happen to be an American, but I recognize, and you should too, that that’s as accidental a reality as anything could possibly be. So I lucked out in the old ovarian lottery, and the little zygote that became me happened to have been formed inside a particular set of borders. I’ve never understood why that should free me of the obligation to worry about those who didn’t have my luck. All the more reason to, I’d have thought.

All societies are like ours to some extent. Lord knows, many are more chauvinistic. But here’s where I think we are unique: in our continued capacity to be shocked that anything terrible could happen to us. This has everything to do with the narrative we are fed and, in a continuous loop through the media (not just news media, but all media, Hollywood and the rest), feed and re-feed to ourselves. We are exceptional. These things don’t happen here. I remember thinking not long after September 11: Why was everyone so shocked? True, the audacity of it was shocking, so there’s that. But they’d tried to do it before to the World Trade Center, and anyway, nearly everyone else in the world lives with this kind of thing, albeit on a less operatic scale. I was surprised only that it took them that long to deliver a blow like that to our shores.

But the point now is that nothing is on our shores. Shepard Smith is right. So it isn’t happening to us, and yet we’re acting like it is, and while we’re not exactly forgetting the people it actually is happening to, we are certainly diminishing their far worse suffering.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, October 18, 2014

October 20, 2014 Posted by | American Exceptionalism, Ebola, Media | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Darrell Issa, GOP’s Resident Thug”: Contempt For Congressman Elijah Cummings, Contempt For The American People

The farce that is Rep. Darrell Issa continues. He put on an amazing spectacle shutting down the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, on Wednesday, repeatedly cutting off Cummings’ microphone and, finally, turning his back and walking away. I especially loved Issa’s little gesture pulling his finger across his throat like a knife, to cut the mic a second time. I called it “thuggish” on “Politics Nation” and folks on the right aren’t happy. That’s OK; it was thuggish.

Issa had once again called former IRS supervisor Lois Lerner to testify before the committee, knowing she was going to again use her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. But what Issa didn’t reveal is that Lerner’s attorney had offered last month to share her answers to the committee’s questions via what’s called a “proffer.” That’s when the subject of an investigation reveals the rough outlines of what they know, which can also help determine whether they deserve immunity from prosecution (in order to get them to share more). But Issa rejected the proffer and staged a show trial designed to have Lerner take the Fifth again, in front of television cameras and a packed hearing room.

Cummings asked for time to make a statement, once Issa announced himself satisfied that Lerner wouldn’t testify Wednesday and tried to adjourn. That’s when Issa cut his mic.

“We’re adjourned. Close it down,” Issa said.

“I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America. I am tired of this!” Cummings replied, though his mic was off. “You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is something absolutely wrong with that. It is absolutely un-American … Chairman, what are you hiding?”

On “Politics Nation” Wednesday committee member Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton explained Cummings was going to ask about Lerner’s attorney’s proffer, and that was why Issa shut him down. Issa was trying to “keep us from revealing that we could have learned exactly what [Lerner] would have said,” Norton explained. Cummings’ office confirmed her account.

So why would Issa reject that proffer if he was committed to learning the truth about the IRS “scandal”? Because from the beginning he’s known it wasn’t a scandal. From the beginning Issa has selectively leaked testimony and other evidence from his committee’s investigation to Fox News – which he treats as a fourth arm of government — consistently distorting the facts.

We now know that IRS staffers, overwhelmed by post-Citizens United political activism, used certain terms to screen groups on the right and the left to make sure they deserved tax-exempt status. Groups with “Tea Party” or “Patriots” in their names, as well as “Occupy” or “Blue,” were flagged for special scrutiny. So far the only known group to lose its tax exemption was a Democratic group, Emerge America, which works to elect Democratic women to public office.

But over and over again, Issa has leaked one-sided testimony designed to show a bias against conservatives. Over and over Cummings has asked him to make public all of the testimony and evidence gathered by their committee, only to have Issa refuse. A few times Cummings has himself released testimony, including that of a self-identified “conservative Republican” manager of an IRS screening group who said no one from the Obama administration had anything to do with the selection of Tea Party groups for scrutiny.

Issa showed remarkable contempt for Cummings on Wednesday, but he also showed contempt for the American people. Issa’s investigation has cost at least $14 million, and eaten up 97,542 hours of IRS staffers’ time. The agency has coughed up more than 500,000 pages of documents; 35 former and current IRS employees have sat for interviews. Treasury and IRS officials have testified at 15 separate congressional hearings. After all of that, a leader who wanted the truth would have listened to what Lerner had to say through her attorney. That’s not what Issa’s after. He’s trying to shame the White House, and Cummings makes a great stand-in.


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, March 6, 2014

March 7, 2014 Posted by | Darrell Issa, House Government Oversight Committee | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: