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“A Glaring Symbol Of What You Stand For”: Hey GOP, Please Keep Steve Scalise At The Top Of Your Junk Pile

The Republican Party’s strategy for reaching across the cultural and racial divide, in an effort to expand its tent for the next major national election, is to throw its full support behind embattled Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise who, by his own admission, spoke in 2002 to The European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a white supremacist group founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise claims he did not at the time know the origin of the group or Duke’s involvement.

Scalise, who as Majority Whip is the GOP’s 3rd highest ranking representative, told a reporter almost 20 years ago while running for office that he was like “David Duke without the baggage.” Was this simple pandering to a key voting block or a much clearer window into the man’s political and moral psyche? Either way, he knew exactly who he was targeting.

As House Republicans vote Tuesday to elect its leaders, many on the right have been all too quick to defend Scalise’s utterly implausible story, even blaming Democrats for the controversy. Speaking on MSNBC’s Hardball Monday evening, Republican strategist and former Dick Cheney advisor Ron Christie said: “I think the Democrats are being disgraceful in the way that they’re playing the race card. The Democrats are dividing this country…” he said, while specifically naming DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

In a statement released Monday, Wasserman Schultz said: “As the new Congress begins, nothing discredits Republican claims of ‘outreach’ and bringing people together more than their decision to keep Steve Scalise at the top tier of the elected leadership of their caucus…Anyone living in this century should have known better than to attend and speak at a white supremacist event, particularly one founded and led by David Duke, and Scalise’s explanation that he wasn’t aware isn’t credible by a long shot.”

And Earnest, during Monday’s White House press briefing, said: “There’s no arguing that who Republicans decide to elevate into a leadership position says a lot about what the conference’s priorities and values are.”

So let’s get this straight: what riles Republican officials is not that their party has racists, who do and say despicable things, but rather the Democrats who make public their words and actions. Welcome to 2015, where condemning racism is playing the race card.

To the GOP I say, please keep Steve Scalise in his leadership post. Leave him up there as a glaring symbol of what your party stands for. Let Americans know who you support. Who you defend. Who you reward with power. Who you call a “man of character.”


By: Andy Ostroy, The Blog, The Huffington Post, January 6, 2015

January 7, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Racism, Steve Scalise | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Good Reminder To Voters”: The Political Repercussions Of The Hobby Lobby Decision

Normally it’s not a good idea to jump right into the political implications of a major Supreme Court decision like Hobby Lobby, but in this case there’s no point in waiting. This was a political decision and it is absolutely proper for Democrats to use it as a weapon in the midterm election campaign.

Minutes after the court ruled that closely held corporations have religious rights that permit them to deny contraceptive benefits to employees, Democrats made clear that they would use the case to remind women of the personal consequences of this kind of conservative ideology. An e-mail blast from the Democratic Party called the case a “wake-up call,” and urged recipients to “stand up for women’s rights” by electing Democrats to Congress.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party chairwoman, tied the case to other Republican policies regarding women, including blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act. “It is no surprise that Republicans have sided against women on this issue as they have consistently opposed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions,” she said.

The Supreme Court, in other words, could become a high-profile stand-in for the offensive remarks of Tea Party candidates (remember “legitimate rape”?) that helped elect several Democrats in 2012, but have largely been quieted this year.

Of course Republican politicians are trying to portray the Hobby Lobby decision purely as a win for religious freedom, which is a more attractive spin than the loss of reproductive freedom for women who work for these companies.

“Today’s decision is a victory for religious freedom and another defeat for an administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its Big Government objectives,” Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. A more honest statement of the party’s thinking came in this tweet from Erick Erickson, the conservative blogger: “My religion trumps your ‘right’ to employer subsidized consequence free sex.”

The White House — aware that most Americans oppose letting employers choose contraception plans based on religious beliefs — wasted no time in trying to transform the public’s anger at this kind of thinking into political action. Josh Earnest, the new press secretary, urged Congress to take action to assist the women affected by the decision, implicitly reminding voters that the future of this issue is truly in their hands. And Senator Patty Murray of Washington, a leading Democrat, quickly took up the challenge.

“Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will,” she said in a statement. “In the coming days I will work with my colleagues and the Administration to protect this access, regardless of who signs your paycheck.”

The court based its decision not on a Constitutional principle but on an act of Congress, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Acts of Congress can be overturned or changed if the right lawmakers are in place, and Hobby Lobby is a good reminder to voters that important policies are often not in the hands of nine justices, but in their own.


By: David Firestone, Taking Note, The Editors Blog, The New York Times, June 30, 2014

July 2, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, Hobby Lobby, Supreme Court, Women's Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dirty Liar Harry”: Republicans Have Just About Had It With Harry Reid On Romney’s Tax Return Story

Good afternoon: It’s Sunday, August 5th, 2012, and Mitt Romney has still not released more than two-years’ worth of tax returns. Why is that? Only Mitt and Rafalca know for sure. The rest of us poor souls must continue to sit here and speculate, potentially forever. As you are perhaps aware, Harry Reid has floated one improbable explanation for the secrecy surrounding the documents, which is that Romney did not pay taxes for a decade. The candidate has, of course, denied this, but Reid keeps pushing back, forcing Romney’s surrogates to attack him and thereby ensuring that the story — and the general tax return theme — remain in the news.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus got particularly feisty on ABC’s This Week, calling Reid a “dirty liar who hasn’t filed a single page of tax returns himself, complains about people with money but lives in the Ritz Carlton here down the street.” Senator Lindsey Graham called Reid’s accusations “out of bounds,” while Virginia governor Bob McDonnell said they were “reckless and slanderous.” McDonnell added that, “People don’t care about Mitt Romney’s tax returns. They are [worried] about their own tax returns,” which would probably be mostly true in a world in which Mitt Romney had released more tax returns.

Meanwhile, the Democrats did their best to contain their glee over the situation, with varying degrees of success. Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell gently peer pressured Romney to share his filings, saying, “We all do it. It’s become commonplace in American politics…Mitt, go ahead and do it.” Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs suggested that Romney “go to Kinko’s,” where he could “put this to rest” by making copies of the documents for “a nickel a page.” (Gibbs was nice enough to offer to send him the nickels.):

“The whole world would know exactly what loopholes he’s taking advantage of,” alluding to Romney’s having placed some of his money in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

Asked repeatedly whether the Obama campaign in Chicago had told Reid to stop making those tax claims, Gibbs would only reply: “I don’t think anybody controls Harry Reid.

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz was more subdued: “This question is not just generated by Harry Reid,” she said. “It’s been asked by countless reporters, by voters that want to know more about Mitt Romney’s finances.” And David Axelrod stuck to what has become an Obama campaign mantra, asking, “Why don’t they just put this to rest? What is it that he’s hiding?”

Finally, Reid himself weighed in once again via a statement sent to Talking Points Memo this morning which read, in part, “It is sad that the most secretive candidate since Richard Nixon has forced his party to defend his decision to hide the truth about his tax returns.” Sad is one word for it.


By: Caroline Bankoff, Daily Intel, August 5, 2012

August 6, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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