mykeystrokes.com

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

“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

“When Government Succeeds”: Surrounded By Examples Of Government Success, Which Republicans Don’t Want You To Notice

The great American Ebola freakout of 2014 seems to be over. The disease is still ravaging Africa, and as with any epidemic, there’s always a risk of a renewed outbreak. But there haven’t been any new U.S. cases for a while, and popular anxiety is fading fast.

Before we move on, however, let’s try to learn something from the panic.

When the freakout was at its peak, Ebola wasn’t just a disease — it was a political metaphor. It was, specifically, held up by America’s right wing as a symbol of government failure. The usual suspects claimed that the Obama administration was falling down on the job, but more than that, they insisted that conventional policy was incapable of dealing with the situation. Leading Republicans suggested ignoring everything we know about disease control and resorting to extreme measures like travel bans, while mocking claims that health officials knew what they were doing.

Guess what: Those officials actually did know what they were doing. The real lesson of the Ebola story is that sometimes public policy is succeeding even while partisans are screaming about failure. And it’s not the only recent story along those lines.

Here’s another: Remember Solyndra? It was a renewable-energy firm that borrowed money using Department of Energy guarantees, then went bust, costing the Treasury $528 million. And conservatives have pounded on that loss relentlessly, turning it into a symbol of what they claim is rampant crony capitalism and a huge waste of taxpayer money.

Defenders of the energy program tried in vain to point out that anyone who makes a lot of investments, whether it’s the government or a private venture capitalist, is going to see some of those investments go bad. For example, Warren Buffett is an investing legend, with good reason — but even he has had his share of lemons, like the $873 million loss he announced earlier this year on his investment in a Texas energy company. Yes, that’s half again as big as the federal loss on Solyndra.

The question is not whether the Department of Energy has made some bad loans — if it hasn’t, it’s not taking enough risks. It’s whether it has a pattern of bad loans. And the answer, it turns out, is no. Last week the department revealed that the program that included Solyndra is, in fact, on track to return profits of $5 billion or more.

Then there’s health reform. As usual, much of the national dialogue over the Affordable Care Act is being dominated by fake scandals drummed up by the enemies of reform. But if you look at the actual results so far, they’re remarkably good. The number of Americans without health insurance has dropped sharply, with around 10 million of the previously uninsured now covered; the program’s costs remain below expectations, with average premium rises for next year well below historical rates of increase; and a new Gallup survey finds that the newly insured are very satisfied with their coverage. By any normal standards, this is a dramatic example of policy success, verging on policy triumph.

One last item: Remember all the mockery of Obama administration assertions that budget deficits, which soared during the financial crisis, would come down as the economy recovered? Surely the exploding costs of Obamacare, combined with a stimulus program that would become a perpetual boondoggle, would lead to vast amounts of red ink, right? Well, no — the deficit has indeed come down rapidly, and as a share of G.D.P. it’s back down to pre-crisis levels.

The moral of these stories is not that the government is always right and always succeeds. Of course there are bad decisions and bad programs. But modern American political discourse is dominated by cheap cynicism about public policy, a free-floating contempt for any and all efforts to improve our lives. And this cheap cynicism is completely unjustified. It’s true that government-hating politicians can sometimes turn their predictions of failure into self-fulfilling prophecies, but when leaders want to make government work, they can.

And let’s be clear: The government policies we’re talking about here are hugely important. We need serious public health policy, not fear-mongering, to contain infectious disease. We need government action to promote renewable energy and fight climate change. Government programs are the only realistic answer for tens of millions of Americans who would otherwise be denied essential health care.

Conservatives want you to believe that while the goals of public programs on health, energy and more may be laudable, experience shows that such programs are doomed to failure. Don’t believe them. Yes, sometimes government officials, being human, get things wrong. But we’re actually surrounded by examples of government success, which they don’t want you to notice.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, November 16, 2014

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Ebola, Federal Government | , , , , , , , , , | 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

“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

“An Inconvenient Storyline”: A Second Romney-Backed Solar Company Files For Bankruptcy

On Thursday, Mitt Romney campaigned at the headquarters of Solyndra — the first renewable energy company to receive a federal loan under the stimulus — and reiterated his debunked claims that its bankruptcy symbolized the corruption and cronyism of the Obama administration. But just one day later, a solar panel developer “that landed a state loan from Mitt Romney when he was Massachusetts governor” went belly up, the Boston Herald reports, creating an inconvenient storyline for the GOP presidential nominee.

The company, Konarka Technologies, “filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and will cease operations, lay off its 85 workers and liquidate”:

“Konarka has been unable to obtain additional financing, and given its current financial condition, it is unable to continue operations,” CEO Howard Berke said in a statement. “This is a tragedy for Konarka’s shareholders and employees and for the development of alternative energy in the United States.”

The demise of Konarka could become a hot topic on the campaign trail because Romney personally doled out a $1.5 million renewable energy subsidy to the Lowell startup in 2003, shortly after taking office on Beacon Hill.

Konarka is the second Massachusetts solar company, along with Evergreen Solar and Beacon Power, to receive taxpayer dollars under Romney’s tenure and subsequently declare bankruptcy.

Romney, meanwhile, routinely dismisses the nation’s 3.1 million clean energy jobs, even as clean energy is booming in Massachusetts. The industry has created 64,000 jobs across the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.

 

By: Igor Volsky, Think Progress, June 2, 2012

June 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Energy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: