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“Let Us Help With You With That Non-Problem”: GOP Comes Up With A Non-Problem And We All Have To Drop Everything To Address It

It looks like Mitt Romney’s self-deportation immigration reform plan is working out better than anyone expected.

More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here since the end of the Great Recession, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from both countries. The same data sources also show the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s, mostly due to a drop in the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S.

From 2009 to 2014, 1 million Mexicans and their families (including U.S.-born children) left the U.S. for Mexico, according to data from the 2014 Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID). U.S. census data for the same period show an estimated 870,000 Mexican nationals left Mexico to come to the U.S., a smaller number than the flow of families from the U.S. to Mexico.

A few years ago there was a non-problem that really got Donald Trump energized. This was the question of whether the president of the United States had actually been born in the United States where his mother and father went to college or if he had been born for some inexplicable reason in Kenya, where neither of them lived. Of course, it didn’t matter either way since his mother was a U.S. citizen, but it was a non-problem that we all had to discuss nonetheless.

Around the same time a new political force came into existence that called itself the Tea Party. “Tea” was an acronym for “Taxed Enough Already.” You want to know what the most remarkable thing was about this movement? As CBS News reported at the time, “as a share of the nation’s economy, Uncle Sam’s take this year will be the lowest since 1950, when the Korean War was just getting under way.”

In other words, these anti-government activists chose the moment of lowest real federal taxation in more than a half century to launch a ferocious anti-tax campaign. Again, a non-problem that suddenly became something we all had to discuss and reckon with.

We’ve had a lot of these non-problems if you think about it. There was the non-problem with Fast & Furious, which was an ill-advised program begun by the Bush administration. There was the non-problem of professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Shirley Sherrod and Solyndra and ACORN and in-person voter fraud and the IRS and the so-called Benghazi cover-up and the Ebola panic and now Syrian refugees.

We seem to be living in a political world that is driven less by problems than non-problems that the Republicans have dreamed up or trumped up.

Our biggest immediate problems are probably climate change and a crumbling infrastructure, which the Republicans seem incapable of doing anything about. Or, if you think our biggest problem is the rise of a new virulent terrorist organization in the Middle East that is now looking to strike the West, the Republicans are focused on the non-problem of 10,000 highly vetted refugees rather than the millions of lightly vetted tourists who come here each year. In other words, they want us to focus our attention and resources on something that won’t help and that will do nothing to address the actual threat.

But that’s the pattern here. That’s basically all we get with these people. They come up with a non-problem and we all have to drop everything to address it.

It’s not just Hillary’s damn emails that I’m sick of hearing about.

 

By: Martin Longman, Web Editor, Ten Miles Square, The Washington Monthly, November 20, 2015

November 22, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Immigration Reform, Mitt Romney | , , , , , , , , , | 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

“Investigate Darrell Issa”: Or How To Apply The Chairman’s Own Methods And Style To Him

Among the many reasons that Americans hold the House of Representatives in low repute – at historically abysmal levels, in fact – is the blatantly partisan and ideological misconduct of so many committee chairs. Without any evident embarrassment these mighty politicians deny science, defy mathematics, and dismiss every fact that contradicts their prejudices. But bad as these chairs tend to be, none is quite as flamboyantly awful as Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Government Oversight Committee, a special investigative panel whose latest effort to conjure scandal from nothingness at the Internal Revenue Service would provoke his removal by a responsible leadership.

As we have pointed out repeatedly in these pages, and as testimony by the IRS inspector general has since confirmed, it is now clear that right-wing groups were not targeted for exceptional scrutiny. Moreover, there was no political motive in the agency’s treatment of the Tea Party and associated groups seeking tax exemption (in many cases illegitimately).

It is now equally obvious that the behavior of Issa himself, with his attempts to skew his committee’s investigation and conceal testimony that exonerated the agency, represents the most serious wrongdoing in the supposed “IRS scandal.” But this isn’t the first time that the California Republican, who happens to be the wealthiest man in Congress, has misused the broad powers of his chairmanship. Actually, that is all he does – as he demonstrated in equally opportunistic and amateurish examinations of both the Benghazi tragedy and the “Fast and Furious” affair.

Issa’s stewardship of the House Government Reform Committee has failed even by the standards of the Republican congressional leadership, which must have hoped that he would have collected some Obama administration scalps by now. He delayed the Fast and Furious probe solely to extend it into the election year, blustered against Attorney General Eric Holder, and accomplished…nothing.

There is little hope that Speaker John Boehner, who has enough problems maintaining a semblance of authority and dignity, will question Issa’s fitness to chair this important committee. But still we are left wondering: What would become of Issa if he were subjected to the Republican style of investigation? What if the presumption of guilt, the preference for insinuation over evidence, the omission of exculpatory facts, and the promulgation of conspiratorial speculations that feature in all of Issa’s theatrical probes were applied to him?

As the richest member of Congress, Issa seems to enjoy the same veneer of respectability that great wealth has provided to many dubious figures. But his past includes several troubling encounters with law enforcement, from alleged car thefts to weapons offenses. So what would the public learn from an Issa-style investigation of Darrell Issa?

First, the committee chair would reveal the troubling findings about Issa, namely that he was arrested not once but twice for illegal weapons offenses. Worse yet, he would explain, Issa had been convicted the second time. Then he would release slightly redacted copies of court records on file in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where Issa grew up, showing an arrest, charges of auto theft and carrying a concealed weapon only one month after his discharge from the Army in the winter of 1972. Those same records would also reveal that Issa and an older brother were both suspects in the theft of a “new red Maserati sports car” from an auto dealership, and that Issa was eventually indicted for larceny.

And then the committee might leak a second, even more damaging set of records showing that Issa had been picked up several months later on another weapons charge in Michigan, where he attended college. Police arrested him for possession of an unregistered handgun, leading ultimately to his conviction.

What we might not learn – at least not until the facts were excavated by less partisan probers – is that Issa was only 19 years old at the time; that the first set of charges in Ohio was eventually dropped by prosecutors; and that the Michigan charge was a misdemeanor, punishable by a $100 fine. Which young Issa paid.

Yet whatever Issa did as a foolish kid could be made to look quite sinister by a congressional committee chair like him, dedicated to trumping up minor irritations into major scandals. How fortunate he is that nobody in authority has ever misused the investigative power to smear him – and that those currently in authority over him have no appetite for reining in his abuses of that power.

 

By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, June 29, 2013

June 30, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The UnSub”: Darrell Issa Is An Odd Choice For Grand Inquisitor

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) receives quite a bit of attention for his unique role on Capitol Hill. In short, he’s the guy whose job it is to create political controversies for the Obama White House, whether they have merit or not.

So, when House Republicans investigated Solyndra’s loan guarantees, it was Issa leading the hearings. When House Republicans tried to turn “Fast and Furious” into a scandal, it was Issa yelling at Justice Department officials. And when House Republicans decided to turn last September’s attacks in Benghazi into a political story, it was Issa who adopted the role of Grand Inquisitor.

But every time I see the California Republican, I think of this Ryan Lizza piece in the New Yorker from a couple of years ago, detailing Issa’s rather remarkable background, and his rise to wealth and power despite several “troubles.”

“Many politicians have committed indiscretions in earlier years: maybe they had an affair or hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny. Issa, it turned out, had, among other things, been indicted for stealing a car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and accused by former associates of burning down a building.”

As we discussed last year, Lizza wasn’t being hyperbolic. Issa really has spent a fair amount of his adult life as a suspected criminal.

Lizza’s report highlighted Issa having one run-in with the law after another, including arrests and indictments. There are also many suspected crimes — he’s accused of deliberately burning down a building and threatening a former employee with a gun — which did not lead to formal charges, but which nevertheless cast the congressman in a less-than-flattering light.

The New Yorker report also noted an incident in which Issa was in a car accident with a woman who needed to be hospitalized. He drove away before the police could arrive because, as he told the person he hit, he didn’t have time to wait. Issa didn’t face charges, but he was sued over the matter, and agreed to an out-of-court settlement.

And in case that weren’t quite enough, the same article also noted instances in which Issa appears to have lied about his background.

The congressman, for example, claimed to receive the “highest possible” ratings during his Army career, despite the fact that at one point he “received unsatisfactory conduct and efficiency ratings and was transferred to a supply depot.” Issa also claimed to have provided security for President Nixon in 1971, which wasn’t true, and said he won a national Entrepreneur of the Year award, but didn’t.

As a rule, people with this kind of background do not run for Congress. If they do and manage to get elected, they’re not generally tasked with leading investigations into others’ suspected wrongdoing.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blow, May 13, 2013

May 14, 2013 Posted by | Benghazi, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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