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“GOP Hypocrisy On Public Display”: Garland Nomination Forces GOP To Defend The Indefensible

Apparently, President Barack Obama still believes that congressional Republicans can be shamed.

Apparently, he thinks he can persuade GOP senators to consider his Supreme Court nominee with an implicit threat to expose them as hypocrites, obstructionists and revanchists if they refuse.

Has Obama learned nothing over the past eight years? The GOP Congress is shameless.

Although Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear within hours of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia that he would refuse to consider — no hearings, much less a vote — any nominee Obama proposes, the president went ahead and performed the duties assigned to him by the U.S. Constitution: He selected a worthy nominee to fill the vacancy.

And not just a worthy nominee, but also one whose credentials, in a rational political world, would draw broad bipartisan support. That nominee is Judge Merrick Garland.

Chosen for a seat on the D.C. Court of Appeals by President Bill Clinton, Garland is a centrist who is highly regarded throughout Washington. He’s a former prosecutor; as a Justice Department lawyer, he oversaw the trial team that prosecuted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice, Terry Nichols. In his 1997 confirmation, he received 32 Republican votes, seven from senators still serving.

Allow me to make a prediction: None of that matters. McConnell will still refuse to hold hearings on Garland’s nomination, no matter how much his party’s hypocrisy is held up to public view. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 63 percent of Americans believe the Senate should at least hold hearings on Obama’s nominee.

So what? Garland and Obama had barely left the Rose Garden, where the announcement was held, when McConnell reiterated his pledge to stonewall. “The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country,” he said, “so of course the American people should have a say in the court’s direction.”

I have news for the Senate majority leader. The American people had their say in 2012, when they re-elected Obama with 51 percent of the vote, 5 million more votes than Mitt Romney received. And Obama is still the president. There is nothing in the nation’s founding document that suggests the chief executive should forfeit his duties during his final year.

Count me among those who wish that Obama had nominated a black woman, a first for the nation’s highest court. Not only would GOP obstruction in the face of a highly qualified black female jurist have likely motivated an enthusiastic turnout among Democratic voters in the fall, but it would also be an important symbol in a diverse country. Black women are a crucial part of the progressive coalition, and there are plenty among that cohort who would be excellent choices, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch and U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Of course, such a nominee would likely have given up any chance to actually serve on the Supreme Court, since Republicans would have taken the next several months to mount a smear campaign against her. That would have made her toxic, even if Obama’s successor is a Democrat.

The same applies to Garland, who has agreed to take one for the team. He’s smart enough to know the political calculus: Obama picked him to force Republicans to defend their indefensible position.

Already, conservative groups are gearing up to spend millions to make sure no weak-kneed Republicans fall out of lockstep with the marching orders from on high. (If you’re sick of seeing millions spent secretly to dominate the political process, by the way, you should pay attention to the Supreme Court. The Citizens United case, which allows corporations to spend freely on elections, was brought to you by a high court dominated by conservatives.)

If nothing else, this ought to bring to an end to the attempts by some Washington observers to pin the blame for the reckless partisanship that threatens to swamp the ship of state equally on Democrats and Republicans, on Obama and his GOP antagonists. That’s just nonsense.

It ought to be clear by now that the GOP’s one remaining principle is to oppose Obama at every turn — and utterly without shame.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, March 18, 2016

March 19, 2016 Posted by | GOP, Merrick Garland, Mitch Mc Connell, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Beating Heart Of The Republican Party”: Right-Wing Extremism; Not Just For Radicals Anymore

On Sunday, it will be 20 years since the morning a bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and took 168 human lives. Nineteen of those lives belonged to children.

Maybe it takes you by surprise that it has been so long. Maybe you wonder where the time went. And maybe you remember…

…the ghastly pictures of that building, the front of it sheared away.

…the firefighter emerging from the rubble, tenderly cradling that dying baby.

…the bloody and lacerated people wandering dazedly from the wreckage.

…the breathless speculation that surely the culprits had to be Muslims.

And maybe you remember, too, that sense of vertiginous shock some people felt when we got our first look at the man who planted the bomb and discovered him to be, not a swarthy Muslim with a heavy beard and hard-to-pronounce name, but a clean-cut, apple pie-faced young white man named Timothy McVeigh. People could not have been more nonplussed if Richie Cunningham had shot up a shopping mall.

But the tragedy was to contain one last surprise. It came when we learned why McVeigh committed his atrocity. It seems he hated the government.

That revelation was our introduction to a world whose very existence most of us had never suspected. Meaning the so-called patriot movement, the armed, radical right-wing extremists who refuse to recognize the authority of the nation’s duly constituted and elected government. Maybe you remember the news reports of how they spent nights and weekends drilling in the woods, playing soldier in anticipation of the day ZOG — the Zionist Occupied Government — ceded the country to the United Nations and soldiers of the New World Order came rappelling down from black helicopters to seize everybody’s guns. Maybe you remember how crazy it all sounded.

But that was then. Twenty years ago, the idea of anti-government resistance seemed confined to a lunatic fringe operating in the shadows beyond the mainstream. Twenty years later, it is the mainstream, the beating heart of the Republican Party. And while certainly no responsible figure on the right advocates or condones what he did, it is just as certain that McVeigh’s violent antipathy toward Washington, his conviction that America’s government is America’s enemy, has bound itself to the very DNA of modern conservatism.

It lives in Grover Norquist’s pledge to shrink government down until “we can drown it in the bathtub,” in Chuck Norris’ musing about the need for “a second American revolution,” in Michele Bachmann’s fear that the census is an evil conspiracy. It lives in dozens of right-wing terror plots documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center since the 1995 bombing, including last year’s murder of two police officers and a Walmart shopper by two anti-government activists in Las Vegas. It lives in Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with federal officials.

These days, it is an article of faith on the political right that “government” is a faceless, amorphous Other. But this government brought itself into being with three words — “We the people” — and they are neither incidental nor insignificant. Our government may be good, may be bad, may be something in between, but as long as we are a free society, the one thing it always is, is us. Meaning: a manifestation of our common will, a decision a majority of us made. We are allowed to be furious at it, but even in fury, we always have peaceful tools for its overthrow. So there is never a reason to do what McVeigh did.

We all know that, of course. But 20 years after the day they brought babies out of the rubble in pieces would be an excellent time to pause and remind ourselves, just the same.

 

By: Leonard Pitts., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, April 15, 2015

April 16, 2015 Posted by | Anti-Government, Republicans, Right Wing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Too Often Ignored”: Radical-Right Wing Groups Reach All Time High

While the more mainstream anti-government Tea Party movement faded from view as the GOP co-opted it in the past few years, the action has moved to the fringes, where the number of radical right-wing Patriot groups reached an all time high in 2012, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. What’s more, it’s the fourth year in a row that the record has been broken.

Conspiracy-minded Patriot groups first entered the public consciousness in the 1990s with the rise of the militia movement, and then the Oklahoma City bombing. Now, the SPLC is warning government officials that they see eerie similarities between the current era and that leading up to the bombing.

“As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns,” the group’s president, Richard Cohen, wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The number of Patriot groups peaked after the bombing in 1996 at 858, before falling off steeply and remaining low under George W. Bush. However, since the election of Barack Obama, the number of groups tracked by the SPLC has skyrocketed and continued to climb.

Last year, the SPLC found 1,360 Patriot groups in the country — up more than 500 over the ’96 peak — including 321 militia groups.

Meanwhile, the number of hate groups the group tracks — which includes some arguably mainstream conservative groups like the Family Research Council, in addition to more radical groups like white supremacists — remained over 1,000.

The SPLC blames the resurgence on the down economy (hate and radicalism always tick up when things seem desperate), along with the election and reelection of Barack Obama, a push on gun control, and racial tensions over immigration and the declining power of white America.

“Another factor driving the expansion of the radical right over the last decade or so has been the mainstreaming of formerly marginal conspiracy theories,” notes senior fellow Mark Potock. Indeed, one needs only watch Fox News for an hour or read a Dick Morris column to see that. And conspiracy theorizing seems to have reached new heights recently.

The big fear is that some of this will lead to violence — or rather, more violence. The incidents are too often ignored or viewed as isolated from each other, but there has been much more right-wing terrorism than most people probably realize, from the Sikh Temple shooting, the Holocaust Memorial shooting, the Pittsburgh police shootings, of any of the dozens of attacks on law enforcement officers.

But the people in the federal government responsible for stopping it are poorly equipped to deal with the threat. In part, that’s because Republican lawmakers, stoked by the Tea Party, neutered a Department of Homeland Security task force that was supposed to track homegrown radical groups. After a conservative uproar over a leaked report that warned about the rise of right-wing radical groups in the wake of Obama’s election, DHS relented. It repudiated the paper and dissolved the group responsible for it.

“DHS is scoffing at the mission of doing domestic counterterrorism, as is Congress,” Daryl Johnson, the man who led that task force, told Wired last year. “There’ve been no hearings about the rising white supremacist threat, but there’s been a long list of attacks over the last few years. But they still hold hearings about Muslim extremism. It’s out of balance.”

 

By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, March 6, 2013

March 7, 2013 Posted by | Militia Movement | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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