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“The GOP’s Dirty Little ‘Post Truth’ Secrets”: Trump Forces Questions Republicans Don’t Want To Answer

During the 2012 GOP presidential primary, Newt Gingrich got in a lot of trouble with Republican base voters for saying that we should allow some undocumented immigrants to stay in this country and go through a process of legalization. Mitt Romney’s position was ridiculous – proposing actions that would lead to “self deportation.” All of that was a cover for a messy reality among Republicans: their position on immigration was to “seal the border” (which is not a reality) and avoid talking about the 11 million undocumented people who are currently in the country.

If you want to know just how uncomfortable they were talking about that question, take a look at the lengths to which Rep. Tim Huelskamp went to dodge it. Then along came Donald Trump with his “deport ‘em all” position and all of the 2016 candidates had to take it on. For example, here is Ted Cruz being asked the question directly because of Trump’s proposal.

Last week in an interview with Chris Matthews, Donald Trump unearthed another dirty little secret the GOP has been trying to keep under wraps for a long time. We all know that they want to make abortion illegal and that the case they make is that it kills an unborn child. If, as they believe, it is such a serious crime, who gets punished for it if it is banned? That is the very real outcome of their policy that they wanted to avoid.

Along comes Donald Trump with the response initially to Chris Matthews that women should be punished and then a later correction saying that it should be the doctor who performs the abortion. That blew the lid off the GOP’s cover. And this weekend, John Kasich was put on the spot (very uncomfortably) about it.

Obviously Kasich didn’t want to answer the question. We’re left to wonder what kind of process governors like him would work out with state legislatures on this one if Roe v Wade was ever overturned. That has traditionally been the Republican response to questions like this…keep people in the dark about the consequences of their position because it leads to places that most people don’t want to go. It’s what David Roberts called “post-truth politics.”

One way to understand what is happening with these issues is to see it as the result of Donald Trump’s rejection of political correctness. He often uses that word to describe the position of Democrats. But a post-truth party is filled with questions they don’t want to talk about. Trump is doing a good job of exposing all of them.

But lest we get tempted to give Trump credit for that, it is important to keep in mind that on most of these issues, he embraces the retrograde policies. The difference is that he just comes right out and says so. That is an improvement in honesty but not so much when it comes to decency.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 4, 2016

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Undocumented Immigrants | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Free Weekends Back In Wisconsin”: The Freedom Caucus’ Dilemma; Veto Ryan Or Surrender

According to the most authoritative account we have of what went down when House Republicans met last night, from WaPo’s Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis, Paul Ryan’s agreed to be Speaker if and only if an unprecedented array of “conditions” are met. Some involve his much-reported demands for free weekends back in Wisconsin and reduced fundraising duties. But the real challenge he’s posing is the requirement that the House Conference’s main ideological groupings all endorse him by Friday and essentially promise in advance that they will never threaten him with the kind of defenestration suffered by John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy. In fact, he’s proposing to remove the very lever that led to Boeher’s early departure: a mechanism whereby a majority of House members can at any moment remove a sitting Speaker.

So in effect Ryan’s telling the House Freedom Caucus, the only grouping likely to resist his takeover, that they have the power to veto him between now and Friday, but if they don’t they’d better put on the party harness.

What’s unclear is where Ryan is on the “procedural reforms” Freedom Caucus members keep talking about that would reduce the Speaker’s power to control what legislation comes to the floor and the sanctions that can be used to suppress dissent. They certainly cut against the consolidation of power Ryan clearly wants. But he did make one substantive concession to the ultras: he promised not to bring any comprehensive immigration reform bill to the House floor any time soon (presumably one like the Senate bill, that could be passed with Democratic votes).

In another account of developments in the House last night, National Review quoted Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) complaining at some length about Ryan’s conditions.

“The best thing I can assume is that he really doesn’t want the job,” he says. “You put forth a list of conditions that nobody is going to throw their weight behind, and force people to tell you ‘no,’ rather than the other way around . . . that’s the only thing that makes sense to me.”

If the Freedom Caucus does tell Ryan “no,” the assembled Republican Establishment and MSM commentariats are going to come down on them with thunderous condemnations. It will be fascinating to see if they seize their one avenue to a demonstration of power, or go quietly into probable irrelevance.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, Octoer 21, 2015

October 22, 2015 Posted by | House Freedom Caucus, House Republicans, Paul Ryan, Speaker of The House of Representatives | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Pope Francis Makes Tea Party Heads Explode”: Why Steve King & Louie Gohmert Have It In For The Pontiff

The Bishop of Rome is coming to Washington in September to address a joint session of Congress, and boy are things already getting frisky. Pope Francis is an extraordinarily popular Pope who’s not afraid to wield that popularity for human rights and economic justice. In other words, he’s well to the left of most members of Congress, and he may well get up in their faces about issues near and dear to him. Since you’re sort of required to clap for the Pope, this is going to make for an interesting scene.

In late 2013, not long after his election, Francis wrote an extensive document making economic justice a centerpiece of his papacy. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life,” he wrote, “today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality.”

“Such an economy kills,” wrote Pope Francis, denouncing the current economic system as “unjust at its roots” and one “which defend(s) the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.” Such a system, he warned, is creating a “new tyranny,” which “unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.”

On foreign affairs he’s made his priorities known, too. Earlier this year, Francis helped broker the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba, and just this week,the Vatican announced that it would sign a treaty recognizing a Palestinian state. As Patricia Miller writes in Salon, these sorts of moves aren’t some radical break in policy for the Vatican. It’s just that American conservatives were able to turn a blind eye to these actions before “rock star Francis” commanded their attention. “It’s more accurate,” Miller writes, “to view this particular step in the Vatican’s relationship with Palestine both as a continuation of the Holy See’s long-standing support for Palestinian statehood and as an expression of Francis’ overriding interest in fostering international peace—and his unique ability and willingness to put his finger on the scales to do so.”

The Vatican’s recognition of a Palestinian state under Francis comes at a time when the Republican Party is more reflexively “pro-Israel” — which is to say, pro-Netanyahu — than ever. It’s become routine, if not an outright litmus test, for Republican presidential candidates to reject the pursuit of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, a position that both Democratic and Republican standard-bearers have held for decades. The Obama administration has gone to great lengths to veto U.N. resolutions recognizing a Palestinian state as a favor to Netanyahu’s Israel, and yet Republicans still assault Obama as working hand-in-hand with the Iranians to assure Israel’s destruction. And now we’ve got an actual religious and political leader who has recognized a Palestinian state coming to address Congress.

The fine congressional reporters at Politico did that thing where they asked the usual funny, good-for-a-quote Republican suspects for their opinion on Francis’ upcoming speech in light of his treaty recognizing Palestine and other heretical moves, like his criticism of unregulated capitalism. And the members were, indeed, good for various funny quotes.

Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina is stunned to see the Pope getting so “political” and demands he rein in his activities to more traditional church-y stuff. “It’s interesting how the Vatican has gotten so political,” Duncan said, “when ultimately the Vatican ought to be working to lead people to Jesus Christ and salvation.” Iowa’s Steve King echoed Duncan, saying he’s not sure that he’s as good of a politician as he is a Pope.”

Know your place, sweetheart.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp holds the interesting position that Catholicism is agnostic on issues of poverty, and Francis should stick to what he describes as Catholicism’s “non-negotiables,” like its opposition to abortion and gay marriage and its support for school choice. “How do you deal with a poverty problem? There’s not a Catholic [fix], contrary to the arguments of certain economists that work at the Vatican… But there’s a Catholic view on life, on marriage, on the rights of parents and education. So I hope he sticks to this.” As for foreign policy, Huelskamp gives Francis his permission to speak to “faith and morals… but on foreign affairs, maybe not.” Because morals certainly have no place in foreign affairs.

The quotiest of them all, Rep. Louie Gohmert, describes the Palestinians as “haters” and wants the Pope to know that they don’t take too kindly to his style of Popin’ down in East Texas. “The Pope is the head of his religion, and he makes those calls for himself,” Gohmert generously concedes, “but I represent 700,000 people from East Texas and a vast majority agree with me.”

There’s a whole lot more in here, including Rep. Trent Franks questioning Pope Francis’s grasp of scripture.

It’s fascinating to see these members trying to impose constraints on what’s acceptable for the Holy See to say in his address to Congress. Just a few months ago, conservatives were apoplectic that anyone would dare criticize Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to trash the President’s foreign policy before a joint session of Congress. The man has a right to speak his mind! It helped, of course, that Netanyahu’s mind and the Republican mind were one and the same. Now the Pope might come and say “Palestinians have rights too” and everyone’s all, Whoa whoa whoa, let’s stick to the fetus here, guy. 

 

By: Jim Newell, Salon, May 15, 2015

May 18, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Louie Gohmert, Pope Francis, Steve King | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Party In Search Of A Policy”: Republicans Don’t Seem To Want To Do Anything Except Stop Obama From Solving Problems

If anger were a legitimate substitute for public policy, Republicans would be in excellent shape in the middle of a debate on immigration. The GOP has stockpiled enough rage, fury, insults, and red-hot disgust to last a lifetime. There isn’t a shred of doubt in anyone’s mind that the entirety of the Republican Party is experiencing genuine, 100%, Grade A outrage.

What Republicans don’t have is a policy.

Or anything resembling a serious, substantive approach to the issue at hand.

A few days ago, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), a strident, right-wing voice in his party on immigration, sat down with Mark Halperin, who asked what the congressman would do about the nation’s immigration challenges. Huelskamp dodged, so Halperin, to his credit, followed up, pressing the Kansas Republican to explain what he’d do about the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Huelskamp dodged again. So Halperin asked a third time, and the Republican would only say, “I want to know how many folks are here. I want to secure the border.”

It was uncomfortable to watch – the far-right congressman was clearly lost – but it was a cringe-worthy reminder that Republicans still don’t have a coherent immigration policy they’re willing to share out loud. Ezra Klein had a good piece on this overnight.

Republicans aren’t just the opposition party anymore. They are, arguably, the governing party – they will soon control the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, most state legislatures, and more governorships. And the governing party needs to solve – or at least propose solutions – to the nation’s problems. And that means the Republican policy on immigration needs to be something more than opposing Obama’s immigration policies. It needs to be something more than vague noises about border security. […]

There are 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the country right now. Congress allocates enough money to deport roughly 400,000 of them annually. Our policy towards the 10.6 million unauthorized immigrants we’re not deporting is that we don’t have a policy. Democrats support a path to citizenship. Republicans don’t support anything.

Quite right. There’s a striking asymmetry, not just between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to presenting policy solutions, but between Republican responsibilities and Republican intentions – they’re a post-policy party with an aversion to governing, which is a problem for a party that has been given broad authority by voters to shape policy and govern.

It’s all painfully obvious, but just as importantly, it’s playing out in real time. This week, for example, a governing party with a policy agenda would respond to White House executive actions by weighing legislation on immigration. The Republican Party, in contrast, is deciding whether to shut down the government until the White House makes the GOP feel better. If that falls short, Republicans might weigh impeachment – and perhaps publish some colorful tweets.

Ezra added, “Even if you think he’s going too far, he at least wants to solve the problem. Republicans don’t seem to want to do anything except stop Obama from solving the problem.”

The GOP wants to present itself as the grown-up party. Republicans see themselves the serious ones who can be trusted to wield power responsibly, unlike those wacky and reckless liberals.

It’d be a less laughable pitch if someone, anyone at all, could identify what the party’s position on immigration policy is.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 21, 2014

November 22, 2014 Posted by | Executive Orders, Immigration Reform, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Stuck In The First Stage Of Grief”: GOP Reflexively Making Themselves Feel Better About A Reality That’s Causing Them Pain

At a press conference last week, President Obama announced a figure that was hard to even imagine a month ago: 8 million consumers signed up for private insurance through exchange marketplaces during the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period. Obama also took a moment to chide Republicans for having been wrong about practically every aspect of the debate.

“I recognize that their party is going through the stages of grief,” he said, “and we’re not at acceptance yet.”

That sounds about right, though I’m not sure the GOP is “going through the stages of grief” so much as it’s stuck on the first one. If the process is believed to have five stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – we have quite a ways to go before “acceptance” is even on the horizon.

Denial still dominates.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said Monday he believes the uninsured rate in his state has increased since implementation of the 2010 health care reform law.

“It’s hard to get accurate numbers on anything,” Huelskamp told his constituents at a town hall in Salina, Kan., according to video posted by Eagle Community Television. “But the numbers we see today is that – as I understand them – we believe there are more people uninsured today in Kansas than there were before the president’s health care plan went into effect. And I thought the goal was to bring more people into insurance.”

There are a wide variety of counts when it comes to determining just how many uninsured Americans have been able to get coverage, but all of the reports have something important in common: they all show the rate of the uninsured going down, not up. We can discuss exactly how many, whether that’s in line with expectations, whether that’s enough to sustain the larger system, and why progress is happening faster in blue states than red states.

But to argue that the number of uninsured people is climbing is comparable to arguing that the federal budget deficit is getting larger; the planet is experiencing global cooling; and Obama has pushed use of executive orders to new heights.

Oh wait, conservative Republicans often believe all of those bogus claims, too.

Obviously, the problem isn’t limited to Huelskamp. On Friday, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said he doesn’t believe the Obama administration’s enrollment totals, calling the figures “all smoke and mirrors.” On Thursday, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested consumers receiving ACA subsidies to defray the costs of coverage may be engaged in “fraud.”

Much of the Republican establishment quickly embraced the “cooking the books” conspiracy theory, which was soon after followed by the Census Bureau conspiracy theory.

The right doesn’t bother with evidence to bolster any of this – evidence is irrelevant. Denial isn’t about rationality; it’s about reflexively making one feel better about a reality that’s causing them pain.

That said, GOP officials aren’t just embracing denial, they’re swimming in it in the most self-indulgent fashion possible. Republicans almost seem to be enjoying their distaste for health care reality, seemingly eager to one up their far-right colleagues.

Let’s also not brush past the “heads I win, tails you lose” problem – “Obamacare” critics believe the numbers are correct and reliable when they point to facts Republicans want to hear. Enrollment totals are low? This is proof that conservatives were right all along and that the ACA is a failure. Enrollment totals soared in March? This is proof that the White House is perpetrating a fraud – because conservatives were right all along and that the ACA is a failure.

It’s become effectively impossible under conditions like these for the two sides to even have a conversation about health policy. Paul Krugman’s take over the weekend rings true:

Not a day goes by without some prominent Republican politician or pundit insisting that the enrollment numbers are phony, that more people are losing insurance than gaining it, etc.. I know that’s what the base believes, because it’s what they hear from Rush and Fox. But you would think that important people would have someone around who has a clue, who knows that enrollment data and multiple surveys are all telling the same story of unexpected success. OK, maybe not – if famous senators don’t have anyone to clue them in about BLS data, they might really still be living in the bubble. But that’s really their choice.

And the point is that with enrollment more or less closed for 2014, there’s not much point in spinning. OK, maybe if you can keep up the pretense all the way to November, you can slightly sway base voters for the midterms. But even that’s doubtful – by the fall, we’re going to have a very clear picture of how things went; and the shape of that picture has already been determined.

I guess that what gets me is the – to use the technical term – wussiness of it all. Isn’t there any space on the right for people who sell themselves as tough-minded, who condemn Obamacare on principle but warn their followers that it’s not on the verge of collapse? Is the whole party so insecure, so unable to handle the truth, that it automatically shoots anyone bearing bad news?

I’m going to assume those are rhetorical questions, because the answer seems pretty obvious.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 21, 2014

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, GOP, Obamacare | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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