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Video: Senate Republicans Scramble to Secure Votes for Last-Ditch Effort to Repeal Affordable Care...

https://democracynow.org - Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill lobbying Republican senators to ... Via Youtube

Senate Republicans Scramble to Secure Votes for Last-Ditch Effort to Repeal Affordable Care Act

Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill lobbying Republican senators to support the latest healthcare plan, known...

Gallup: Only Republicans’ Trust in Newsmedia Plunged After 2003

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org On August 25th, Gallup headlined "Republicans', Democrats' Views of Media Accuracy Diverge”, and reported that ever since America's newsmedia...

Who's Behind Fossil Fuel Extraction? It's Not Just Republicans

Though many see the Paris Accord as President Obama's shining moment for the environment, the plan to speed the construction of fossil fuel infrastructures...
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Video: Texas Republicans Pushed to Kill Safety Regulations for Arkema Chemical Plant Before Explosion

https://democracynow.org - The flooded Arkema chemical plant in the town of Crosby, Texas, that saw two explosions on Thursday, could see as many as...

After Charlottesville, Republicans Defend Bills to Protect Drivers Who Hit Protesters

Following Heather Heyer death on Saturday—killed when a suspected Nazi sympathizer allegedly drove his car into a crowd of people counter-protesting violent white supremacist...

Republicans Consider Relaxing Constraints on Telecom Giants

Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai (2nd right) prepares to deliver remarks and participate in a discussion at The American Enterprise Institute for Public...

"We Can't Let Our Guard Down": Republicans Could Use Budget as Cudgel Against Medicaid

People protest against the Senate health care bill on June 28, 2017, in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Since election night...

W. Virginia governor switches parties, Republicans now control majority of states

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice is now a Republican, he officially announced at a rally for...

Ron Paul on Real Bipartisanship: Republicans and Democrats Unite for New Cold War

Donald Trump claimed that he wanted a different foreign policy, but then he went and hired neocons for the State...

War on weed: Veterans’ access to medical marijuana blocked by Republicans

Veterans hoping to use medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder have had their hopes extinguished...

House Republicans call for 2nd counsel to probe Obama officials, Clinton

US House Judiciary Committee Republicans have called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to set up a...
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Video: In “Dangerous” Move, Republicans Push to Strip Healthcare From Millions Without Holding Any...

https://democracynow.org - As protesters shouted "Kill the bill! Kill the bill!" Senate Republicans voted Tuesday, by the narrowest of margins, to open debate on...

In Dangerous Move, Republicans Push to Strip Health Care From Millions Without Holding Any...

Sen. John McCain arrives in Washington, DC, to deliver a vote to proceed to debate on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act on...

For Republicans, Fear and Loathing is a Winning Message

Leonard Pitts Jr.A little context is critical here. It would be too easy to dismiss Donald Trump’s Commission on Electoral Integrity as superfluous evidence of...

Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon

Photo by Mark Taylor | CC BY 2.0 As Donald Trump’s approval ratings fall and calls for his impeachment increase, Democrats seem not yet to...

Republicans are Right: Going to College Hurts

Going to college is a good thing, right? That’s at least what I was told as a kid, and what led me to get...

Trump White House Ridiculously Blames Democrats for Republicans' Repeal Failure

Julia Conley, staff writerAt the latest off-camera press briefing Tuesday, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made clear the official White House...

Republicans Push Bill to Delay Reducing Ground Level Ozone

WASHINGTON - A Republican bill to delay, until 2025, the reduction of dangerous ground level ozone is up for a vote this week in...

McCain illness forces Republicans to delay vote on troubled health care bill

Published time: 16 Jul, 2017 16:46 Edited time: 16 Jul, 2017 16:49 Senate Republicans have delayed...

Republicans Set to Lose a Vote, if Mississippi Union Dispute Goes Before NLRB

If workers at a Nissan plant in Mississippi vote to be represented by the United Auto Workers, it will create a bargaining unit of...
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Video: ‘Connect the dots’: Republicans demand probe into alleged activist funding from Russia

Several top US Republicans are calling on the Trump administration to investigate alleged Russia funding of environmental activists in order to undermine the ... Via...

House Republicans Attack Clean Air, Climate in Budget Bill

WASHINGTON - Legislation funding the Environmental Protection Agency contains multiple policy provisions that would delay Clean Air Act safeguards and cripple the Environmental Protection...

As Republicans Hide From Voters, Sanders Rallies Trumpcare Resistance

As the congressional recess—usually a time for lawmakers to interact with their constituents—is set to end on Monday, many Republicans are working extremely hard...

Trump v CNN: Republicans & Democrats at odds when it comes to trustworthiness –...

The vast majority of Republicans believe Donald Trump is more trustworthy than CNN while almost all...
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Video: Assange feels threatened by both Republicans & Democrats following Clinton email leaks–Annie Machon

The 'tolerant liberals' of the Democratic Party believe the WikiLeaks founder damaged the electoral chances of Hillary Clinton last year and now are attacking...
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Video: Republicans Have Trifecta Control of 25 States & Need 6 More to Call...

https://democracynow.org - Historian Nancy MacLean says much of the radical right's agenda is being pursued at the state level. Republicans already have ... Via Youtube

Republicans Still Pushing False Flags in Syria and Cold War With Russia

Seymour Hersh’s shocking new investigative report shows that US intelligence knew there was no Assad chemical attack in April, but...
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Video: By Defunding Planned Parenthood, Republicans Would Reduce Services That Make Abortion Unnecessary

https://democracynow.org - The healthcare bill proposed by Senate Republicans would reduce key benefits for millions of Americans and defund Planned ... Via Youtube

By Defunding Planned Parenthood, Republicans Would Cut Services That Reduce Abortions

The health care bill proposed by Senate Republicans would reduce key benefits for millions of Americans and defund Planned Parenthood for a year, making...

Senate Republicans release draft of Obamacare overhaul

Published time: 22 Jun, 2017 14:43 Edited time: 22 Jun, 2017 15:26 Senate Republicans released their...

Prince Harry says nobody wants to be king, republicans tell him he’s ‘free to...

Published time: 22 Jun, 2017 12:26 Prince Harry says nobody in the royal household wants...

MoveOn Criticizes Senate Democrats, Republicans for Passage of New Iran Sanctions Bill

WASHINGTON -  Last week, the United States Senate voted in favor of passing new economic sanctions on Iran with overwhelming support, with the exception...

Republicans Keep Missing the Point About Gun Violence—Even When They’re the Targets

Gun rights activists for years have fought for the free proliferation of firearms throughout the U.S., perhaps subconsciously imagining they were only arming themselves....

Amid Trump Chaos, Republicans Keep Their Eyes on the Big Prize: The Courts

While the Trump administration remains embroiled in scandals of its own making and continues to blunder forward seemingly without direction, Republicans have their collective...

Media Help Republicans Gut Obamacare Behind Closed Doors

“We’re not stupid,” a Senate aide told Axios‘ Caitlin Owens (6/12/17) to explain why the GOP would not release a draft healthcare bill. Senate Republicans...

Republicans Set A Standard For Impeachment — And Trump Has Met It

Former FBI Director James Comey’s explosive testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee began with an unambiguous declaration that the president of the United States...

House Republicans vote to roll back major Wall Street regulations enacted after ‘08 crash

Against a unified Democratic Party in the US House, Republicans have passed a bill to undo...

233 House Republicans Just Set Course for Next Financial Collapse

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the Financial CHOICE Act on Thursday afternoon in a move critics—who call it the #WrongChoiceAct—say puts the U.S....

You've Been Duped. The Affordable Care Act Isn't Raising Your Premiums. Republicans Are.

As I watch the debate unfold over repeal of the Affordable Care Act, I keep thinking about the Hans Christian Anderson story "The Emperor's...

NC Republicans illegally used race during redistricting, US Supreme Court rules

North Carolina’s GOP-led legislature illegally used race to redraw congressional districts, the Supreme Court has ruled....

Many More People Will Die If Republicans Are Successful in Dismantling Obamacare

Janine Jackson: The US healthcare conversation has come to an odd pass. We have an elected representative who maintains that, because you can go...

‘Many More People Would Die if Republicans Are Successful’

Janine Jackson interviewed Margarida Jorge about the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut funding for Medicaid for the May 12,...

Are There 22 Patriotic House Republicans?

Robert ReichTrump warning to former FBI Director James Comey against leaking anything negative about him—tweeting "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes'...

How We Can Make House Republicans Pay for Their Health Care Vote

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) walks to the House floor for a vote at the Capitol in Washington, May 4, 2017. (Photo: Gabriella Demczuk...
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Video: Protests Erupt After House Republicans Pass Healthcare Bill That Could Hike Premiums for...

http://democracynow.org - Republicans have moved one step closer to repealing Obamacare after the House narrowly approved legislation Thursday that would ... Via Youtube

Net Neutrality Redux: Why Republicans Shouldn't Mess With the Internet

(Photo: Pexels) The internet is quite popular these days, but companies such as AT&T and Comcast that provide internet service are not. That's one reason...

Kansas special election puts Trump, Republicans to test

President Donald Trump himself is getting involved in a special election in Kansas, as Republicans face...

Report: Republicans to Cut Border Wall Funding

Federal funding for one of President Donald Trump’s premier policy proposals may be excluded from the House GOP’s budget for Fiscal Year...

Senate Republicans Change the Rules to Confirm Trump’s Judicial Nominee

Sierra ClubToday, one day after the Senate rejected Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court and Senate Republicans used the nuclear option to...

Senate Republicans 'go nuclear' to approve Gorsuch for US Supreme Court

Republicans in the US Senate have extended the so-called nuclear option to the confirmation process for...
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Video: As Trump Complains About Alleged Surveillance, Republicans Gut Internet Privacy Rules

http://democracynow.org - On Tuesday, the House narrowly voted to allow internet providers to sell your web browsing history and other personal information. Via Youtube

As Trump Complains About Alleged Surveillance, Republicans Gut Internet Privacy Rules

On Tuesday, the House narrowly voted to allow internet providers to sell your web browsing history and other personal information. The vote will give...

'Just don't have consensus': Republicans pull healthcare bill ahead of House vote

President Donald Trump has reportedly asked the House GOP leadership to pull a bill eliminating major...

‘Obamacare will explode’ warns Trump after Republicans pull healthcare bill

Published time: 25 Mar, 2017 17:10 US President Donald Trump is recruiting the entire population of the...
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Video: Will House Republicans “Jump Off the Cliff” and Cut Healthcare for 24 Million...

http://democracynow.org - As President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan face a showdown with Republicans, both moderate and conservative, on whether ... Via Youtube

Grassroots Resistance Credited as Republicans Forced to Postpone AHCA Vote

Republican lawmakers on Thursday were met with a deluge of outrage and calls to stand against the American Health Care Act (ACHA) while the...

Republicans introduce bills authorizing new military force against ISIS

A new House bill was introduced that would create a new Authorization for Use of Military...

‘A priority for us all’: 17 Republicans introduce legislation to combat climate change

Breaking ranks with their own party, more than a dozen House Republicans have put forward legislation...

 Republicans Keep Showing Us Who They Are

Amid the mayhem of Trump’s first days in office, the Congressional Budget Office’s crushing report on the impact of the Republican health-care plan offers...

The Lives of Millions of People Jeopardized by Republicans’ Ruthless Health Care Repeal...

A few salient points on the well-deserved uproar greeting Steve King's "We can't restore our civilization...

House Republicans Unveil Bill to Repeal Obamacare

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled long-awaited legislation on Monday to repeal much of the Obamacare healthcare law, including its...

‘Unprecedented freedom’: Republicans present Obamacare replacement

The GOP-proposed American Health Care Act would return power to the states and offer greater choice,...

You're On Your Own: Republicans Plan Attack on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security

(Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout; Adapted: Tom Harris) Several years ago, 62-year-old Michael Kaufman, a disabled resident of Bovina, New York, accidently drilled through one...

Amid Republicans' ACA Subterfuge, Resistance Urges "No Score No Vote"

House Republicans are under fire for keeping their Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and replacement bill secret (from the public and other lawmakers) and...

Republicans, Where’s the Backbone?

Bill Moyers, Michael WinshipCongressional Republicans, we watched you at the White House Thursday. Just before Donald Trump’s rambling, manic, often snarky press conference —...

Republicans Hustle to Shield Trump as Demands for Russia Inquiry Grow

Republicans are dismissing the mounting call to thoroughly investigate the Trump campaign's connection with Russian intelligence, and party leadership is seemingly pushing for members...

Republicans ask DOJ to probe illegal leaks of classified Flynn info

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz has requested that the Department of Justice launch a formal investigation...

Republicans Want to Let Fossil Fuel Companies Waste Taxpayers' Natural Gas

(Photo: Ervins Strauhmanis; Edited: LW / TO) With all the gutting of regulations going on in Congress these days, it can be hard to keep...

'Leftist Fight Club' Trains UCF Students to Fight Republicans

The “Knights for Socialism” group at the University of Central Florida (UCF) held a workshop Sunday to teach left-wing students how to...

Republicans Introduce Bill to "Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency"

Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency, before a confirmation hearing in Washington, DC, on January 18, 2017. Pruitt has...
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Video: “Stolen Seat”: A Look Back on How Republicans Blocked Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

http://democracynow.org - President Trump was only able to nominate Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia because the ... Via Youtube

People Power Works as Two Republicans Pledge to Vote 'No' on DeVos

Just one more Republican "no" vote is needed to derail the confirmation of education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, after GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine)...

NYT Amazed That Republicans Are Embracing Republican Ideas

Readers who are familiar with the Republican Party wil be surprised to learn the it previously “opposed” such policies as increasing the size of...

Beware Iran’s ‘malign influence’ but respect nuclear deal, May tells Republicans

Ahead of her first audience with US President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May warned of what she called Iran’s “malign influence,” but...

'We have to deliver': Trump calls congressional Republicans to action

President Donald Trump urged the Republican members of the US Congress to help him deliver on...
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Video: Repeal & Run? Republicans Move to Axe Obamacare, But What Will Replacement Look...

http://democracynow.org - Republicans in the newly sworn-in 115th Congress are moving swiftly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature ... Via Youtube

The Three Big Reasons Republicans Can't Replace Obamacare

Republicans are preparing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and have promised to replace it with something that doesn’t leave more than 20 million...

Without Warning or Public Input, House Republicans Vote to Dismantle Ethics Oversight Office

A new Republican-led Congress meets today, and in one of their first moves, House Republicans have voted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics,...
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Video: Without Warning or Public Input, House Republicans Vote to Dismantle Ethics Oversight Office

http://democracynow.org - A new Republican-led Congress meets today, and in one of their first moves, House Republicans have voted to gut the Office of...

Republicans Scrap Proposal to Undermine Ethics Watchdog

Demand ProgressThe following statement can be attributed to Daniel Schuman, policy director of grassroots activist organization Demand Progress: "Today House Republicans backed down from a...

How Do Republicans Get Away With Voter Suppression?

Greg Palast (right) interviews Rosario Dawson (left) about the Republican purging of Hispanic females from voter rolls in his documentary The Best Democracy Money...

N Carolina Republicans strip power from incoming Dem governor after days of protest, arrests

The Republican-led North Carolina legislature has passed special session measures that will weaken powers vested in...

Republicans increasingly see Russia as an ally – poll

Following the lead of President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans say their views of Russia and its president,...

Donald Trump and the Republicans: The Art of the Steal

President-elect Donald Trump listens to Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis, on December 1, 2016. (Photo: AJ Mast / The...

The Long Con: How the Republicans Played Trump Voters

Donald Trump speaks as his running-mate, Mike Pence, looks on at his election night party early Wednesday morning in New York, November 9, 2016....

How Republicans Game the Concept of Democracy Through Disenfranchisement

Polling booths at an early voting location on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe, October 12, 2016. Voter disenfranchisement is just...

61% of Americans don’t feel represented by either Democrats or Republicans

Despite the current US electoral landscape, which again sees a Democrat and a Republican leading the...
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Video: The Real Vote Rigging: Republicans Make It Harder for Millions to Vote in...

http://democracynow.org - As Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump urges his supporters to be vigilant against widespread voter fraud and a rigged ... Via Youtube

How Republicans Politicized Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew didn't become the national disaster many Americans feared (although the country of Haiti is once again reeling from hundreds of deaths and...

College Republicans Scrawl ‘Build the Wall’ at Painting Event, Are Reported to ‘Bias Incident...

The University of Minnesota held a “Paint the Bridge” event this past Friday at the Washington Avenue Bridge, and the school’s College...

Republicans Issue Good News About Obamacare

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org To Republicans, good news about Obamacare (the American President’s ‘legacy’ healthcare-reform program, called officially “The Affordable Care Act”) is...
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Video: How Disenchanted Democrats and Republicans Together Can Break the Two Party Duopoly

Sam Husseini says he has a way to get voters out of the lesser evil mindset while avoiding the 'spoiler problem' Visit http://therealnews.com for...
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Video: Republicans call for perjury charges against Clinton over emails

The FBI has reportedly dispatched its investigative report on Hillary Clinton, explaining why charges were not recommended against the Democratic presidential ... Via Youtube

Detroit Republicans And The RNC

Recently I traveled to Cleveland to take part in what would be a historical event as Donald J. Trump was nominated the...

Populism Even Republicans Can Get Behind

What if organizers and volunteers joined forces to run a nationwide campaign to replace today’s corporate-owned congress — all at once? Yes, one sweeping campaign...

Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans

  Joseph Sohm | Shutterstock.com   Hillary Clinton’s strategy for the general election is to try to peal away anti-Trump Republicans. That’s why we are seeing her move to...

Trump Brand Republicans

The Republican convention recently concluded with Donald J Trump accepting his party’s nomination for president. Featuring marginal politicians, unemployed athletes and a roster of forgotten celebrities,...

What the Trump Happened to the Republicans?

An attendee wears a Donald Trump mask at the presumptive Republican nominee's campaign rally in The Woodlands, a suburb of Houston, June...

After Orlando, Democrats and Republicans Clamor for Expanded Police State

The horrific massacre in Orlando has once again thrust the specter of domestic terrorism into the limelight, and into the media space.  Pundits and...

The Real Reason Republicans Are Going after the IRS

It’s no secret that House Republicans don’t like the Internal Revenue Service. They’ve once again proposed cutting the agency’s already beleaguered funding, and they recently...

Ann Coulter – Republicans “betrayed America”, “Why can’t we have a home?”

Ann Coulter was on BBC Radio 4, where she spoke about how Republican and Conservative leaders have betrayed America, and questions...

Baseball Without the Umpire: The Republicans' War on Regulations

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California, May 27, 2016. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee,...

House Republicans vote down LGBT rights measure

The US House of Representatives voted down legislation that would have protected the rights of homosexual...
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Video: Republicans Would Rather Lose the 2016 Election than Win with Donald Trump

Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report says Trump's candidacy is throwing both Democratic and Republican parties into crisis. Via Youtube

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Zika Is Headed for the US, but Republicans...

In today's On the News segment: Climate change is reducing the amount of oxygen in the oceans; the Zika virus is coming...

Republicans Only Care About Children Before They're Born

Middle school students eat lunch in a school cafeteria. (Photo: Woodleywonderworks) When it comes to children, Republicans are hypocrites. They go on and on...

Clinton set to assemble ‘Republicans for Hillary’ to lure Trump skeptics

Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton is planning to form a “Republicans for Hillary” group in an attempt...

Republicans Have Rejected the Republican Party

Video ads for Donald Trump run on a digital screen before a rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort...

Why the Vilest Republicans Have Come to Love Hillary Clinton

Eric Zuesse The 1964 “Goldwater Girl” Hillary Rodham (Clinton) is now viewed as a possible savior by the same Republicans that loathed her husband: she’s...

Sanders Soars: The Democratic Race Is Closer Than the Republicans'

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaking at a town meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Sanders remains an underdog, but...

How Obama and Congressional Republicans Intend to Pass TPP Into Law —

After the November Elections Eric Zuesse Back on 10 December 2015, the head of the U.S. Senate, the pro-Obama-trade-deals Republican Mitch McConnell, said that Obama shouldn’t try to...
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Video: Merrick Garland and Judicial Restraint: How A ‘Moderate’ Judge is A Gift to...

The Real Capitol Hill examines Obama's Supreme Court nominee's record, from campaign finance reform to labor issues. Via Youtube

At Secretive Meeting, Tech CEOs And Top Republicans Commiserate, Plot To Stop Trump

Karl Rove shared focus group findings that give hope to the GOP establishment. Described unimaginatively but accurately as "opulent," Sea Island, Georgia, hosted a gaggle...

Republicans Rebuked for Utter ‘Perversion of Constitutional Duties’

Groups say GOP blocking Supreme Court justice nominee 'would cause a constitutional crisis that would shake the very foundation of our democracy' Andrea Germanos Scores of...
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Video: Guilt Abounds: Democrats and Republicans Struggle to Clean Up Their Image Over Flint’s...

Executive editor and founder of BlackAgendaReport.com was back with his Ford Report discussing the political calamity that is Flint Michigan's water crisis. Via Youtube

Leading Republicans Are Promising to Commit War Crimes – and Their Base Loves It

(Photo: mashleymorgan / Flickr) They’re back! From the look of the presidential campaign, war crimes are back on the American agenda. We really shouldn’t be surprised, because...

How Republicans Shred the Republic

The anti-government ideology that drives today’s Republican Party claims to support the U.S. Constitution but is actually its antithesis. Rather than “We the People” providing...
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Video: Republicans Push to Privatize Disability Insurance Despite 99.9% Payment Accuracy

After the GAO finds $11 billion in disability payment fraud, some members of Congress push for privatization to solve a problem which accounts for...
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Video: Senate Republicans Fail to Stop Iran Deal for the Second Time (2/2)

Mehdi Sarram, author of Nuclear Lies, Deceptions and Hypocrisies, says it is scientifically impossible for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon if the deal...
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Video: Senate Republicans Fail to Stop Iran Deal for the Second Time

Mehdi Sarram, Author of Nuclear Lies, Deceptions and Hypocrisies say, that Republicans have mastered the art of deception when it comes to the Iran...

President Obama is a Muslim, Republicans say

A new opinion poll shows a majority of Republicans believe that the first black president of the United States Barack Obama is a Muslim. The...
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Video: Republicans To Let Obama Take Your Passport Without A Trial

In a radical attack on the due-process rights of Americans that received virtually no media attention, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted ... Via Youtube
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Video: Netanyahu, Republicans call Iran deal ‘mistake & weakness’

However, the deal may prove to be a hard sell for the Republican congress. With senators promising a rough ride for the agreement, accusing...

Gallup: Americans Say Gov’t. Must Protect Environment More; Republicans Say ‘No!’

Eric Zuesse A Gallup poll issued on April 13th headlines “Americans Choose the Environment Over Energy Development,” and on April 9th another report from Gallup was titled “About Half in...

The Real Story Behind the Republicans’ Iran Letter

The “open letter” from Senator Tom Cotton and 46 other Republican Senators to the leadership of Iran, which even Republicans themselves admit was aimed at encouraging...

USA: Republicans Want to Force Arms To Kiev

http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/2015/02/06/usa-republikaner-wollen-waffenlieferungen-an-kiew-durchsetzen/ “USA: Republicans want to force arms to Kiev” German Economic News | Published: 02/06/15 15:49 clock If Merkel and Hollande fail in Moscow, the Americans want...

If Republicans Win Control of the Senate in November, Nuclear War with Russia Will...

Eric Zuesse Senate Bill S. 2277 is sponsored by 26 Republicans and no Democrats, and it would give President Obama the virtually unlimited authority to take U.S....

Gallup: Republicans Are Likely to Win Congress Next Month

Eric Zuesse On October 8th, Gallup issued three polls that present next month's U.S. congressional elections as a likely bloodbath for Democrats. One  bannered "Voter Engagement Lower...

White House Aide Says Republicans Might Try for Obama Impeachment

Steve Holland A top White House adviser said on Friday Republicans might try to impeach President Barack Obama over his go-it-alone immigration strategy, as Obama...

Obama Leads Republicans’ War Against Russia

Senate's Republicans Want U.S. War Against Russia Over Ukraine, Propose U.S. Weapons-Makers’ Tax-Relief and Subsidy Act of 2014. They’ll Probably Get Their Way. They Carry Obama’s...

Republicans Rule Out Obama-Impeachment. But Democrats.. We’ll See:

Eric Zuesse  RINF Alternative News President Obama is the most-despised American President in history; he’s dragging his Party down, but will Democrats impeach him, as Republicans...

Only 14% of Americans Sympathize with Palestinians. 73% of Republicans — and 44% of...

Israel Is Winning the Propaganda War Israeli war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza? So far, Americans don’t know or don’t care … A new poll by Pew shows that only 14%...

How Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Congressional Republicans, Worked Together...

Eric Zuesse  RINF Alternative News Frances Robles of The New York Times headlined on July 9th, "Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to U.S. Border" and reported: More than half of...

Obama Continues Record Deportations, Delays Immigration Reforms In Order to Court Republicans

President Obama announced this week that he is delaying a review of his administration’s controversial deportation practices until after the summer, after earlier ordering...

Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court Are Wrong: The Original Intent of the U.S....

Eric Zuesse  RINF Alternative News The original intent of the U.S. Constitution can most accurately be determined upon the basis of the debates that occurred at the...

House Republicans voice support for $1.1 trillion spending bill

David Lawderreuters.comJanuary 14, 2014 Republicans in the House of Representatives voiced tentative support on Tuesday for...

16 House Republicans to Obama: Amnesty ‘Final Economic Blow’ for American Workers

Matthew Boylebreitbart.comJanuary 9, 2014 Sixteen House Republicans led by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) are demanding President...

Walker: Tea Party Should Lay Off Establishment Republicans

Infowars.comJanuary 5, 2013 Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says tea party Republicans need to follow the rules....

Democrat Debt Victory and the Decline of Tea Party Republicans

Paul Ryan promenades with Dems as debt heads to stratosphere Kurt NimmoInfowafrs.comDecember 13, 2013 Does Ryan betrayal signal death knell for tea party wing of Republican...

House Democrats and Republicans Mostly Agree on Austerity

Most members of Congress were pleased with themselves Thursday. They agreed to agree — crossing lines of partisanship and ideology — on an austerity budget...

Republicans reject Obama pick again

Cornelia T. L. Pillard Republicans in the US Senate have rejected President Barack Obama�™s pick for a powerful appeals court, for the third time in...

Head of banking group pushes Republicans to back immigration reform

Jim Puzzangheralatimes.comNovember 11, 2013, 7:44 a.m. The head of the American Bankers Assn., who is a former GOP governor, made a strong pitch Monday to...

Push for immigration action targets House Republicans

Gabriel Debenedetti and Andy SullivanReutersOctober 29, 2013 U.S. businesses, religious leaders and other supporters of overhauling...

Time to Resist the Republicans’ War on Government

Democrats in the White House are confronted with a dilemma. On the one hand, the clock's ticking on their temporary budget deal with the...

Republicans Demand Social Security and Medicare Cuts, Is it Reported?

Rep. Paul Ryan in Raleigh, NC. (Photo: via Shutterstock)Think the world needs an alternative to corporate media? Click here to make a tax-deductible donation...

Republicans Have Done Real Damage to the Economy

Republicans believe that a bad economy works for them at election time. The thinking is that the public will turn on Democrats for not making things better. So they do what they can to make the economy bad. But maybe they went too far this time. This hostage-taking episode has done real, serious, lasting damage to the economy on top of the ongoing damage Republicans have been doing. Will the public still blame Democrats, or will they finally see what is going on here?

The Damage Last Time

Look what happened the last time (2011) Republicans threatened to force the country to default on its debts.

The 2011 hostage-taking hit jobs. In Debt-Ceiling Deja Vu Could Sink Economy Bloomberg reported that, "Growth in nonfarm payrolls decelerated to an average 88,000 a month during the three months of the debt-ceiling impasse, compared with an average of 176,000 in the first five months of 2011." Consumer confidence plunged to a 31-year low. The Conference Board's consumer confidence index fell from 59.2 to 44.5.

In November, 2012, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a "Debt Limit Analysis" estimating the costs of the 2011 hostage-taking:

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report detailing additional costs to taxpayers as a result of the 2011 debt limit increase

  • A substantial cost to taxpayers stemmed from elevated interest rates on U.S. securities issued in 2011 prior to when the debt limit was increased in August
  • GAO conducted an economic analysis to estimate the resulting change in interest rates
  • For Fiscal Year 2011, GAO estimated additional interest costs to taxpayers of $1.3 billion

The cost of the event to the federal government, however, continues to accrue because many of the bonds issued during that period remain outstanding

  • BPC extended GAO's methodology to analyze the long-term cost to taxpayers stemming from the elevated interest rates
  • Estimate of the ten-year cost to taxpayers of the 2011 debt limit standoff = $18.9 billion
  • To put this in perspective, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the "Doc Fix" to prevent the scheduled 27% cut to Medicare physician payments for 2012 cost $18 billion over ten years

That is serious damage. And, of course, the 2011 fight resulted in a downgrading of the US credit rating.

(See also: Think Progress, CHARTS: How The Debt Ceiling Debacle Hurt The Economy)

The Damage This Time

In this hostage fight the immediate damage is much worse than 2011. Consumer confidence, for example, has plunged even more dramatically than during the last debt-ceiling hostage-taking. But these measurements were taken only a week into the fight.

Standard & Poor's ratings agency has done some early calculations of the damage and says, "the shutdown has shaved at least 0.6% off of annualized fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth, or taken $24 billion out of the economy." Note the words "at least." This is an early estimate and does not count direct costs to government and costs to government contractors.

The NY Times today summarizes some of the damage from this hostage-taking, in Gridlock Has Cost U.S. Billions, and the Meter Is Still Running,

Containers of goods idling at ports. Reduced sales at sandwich shops in downtown Washington. Canceled vacations to national parks and to destinations abroad. Reduced corporate earnings forecasts. Higher interest payments on short-term debt.

Even with the shutdown of the United States government and the threat of a default coming to an end, the cost of Congress's gridlock has already run well into the billions, economists estimate. And the total will continue to grow even after the shutdown ends, partly because of uncertainty about whether lawmakers might reach another deadlock early next year.

One example of the damage from this fight – just one,

Residential real estate, which has been one of the brightest points of the recovery, suffered. An index of sentiment among home builders fell in October from a month earlier, according to data released on Wednesday from the National Association of Home Builders. The decline was greater than analysts had expected. One cause for the decline is that the approval process for government-backed mortgages has slowed with the shutdown.

The Damage From Cutting Instead Of Investing

Republicans have forced the country into an austerity mode, instead of an invest and job-creation mode. Everything is being cut, so that the billionaires and their giant corporations can have lower taxes. Aside from the sequester cuts there have been trillions in other cuts.

Paul Krugman writes about this ongoing damage today in a blog post, What A Drag, estimating that just two of the cuts we have experienced (not counting other cuts and the sequester) have cut "about $200 billion of fiscal contraction at an annual rate, or 1.25 percent of GDP, probably with a significant multiplier effect."

That's just those two pieces of Republican damage to our economy. Looking at the overall effect of austerity on our economy,

"Add this to the effects of sharp cuts in discretionary spending and the effects of economic uncertainty, however measured, and I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that extortion tactics may have shaved as much as 4 percent off GDP and added 2 points to the unemployment rate."

Damage: 4% off GDP and 2% added to unemployment.

The Sequester Damage

Then there is the ongoing economic damage done by the sequester cuts. Republicans hail the sequester's cuts as a great victory, an accomplishment in their ongoing fight to destroy government, but in reality the cuts are costing jobs and hitting the economy.

The 2013 job-loss from the sequester cuts is estimated at only 800,000 jobs, but the 2014 job loss is estimated to be 1.6 million.

These job-loss and slow-growth numbers do not include the ripple effect into the larger economy, nor the longer-term cost to our economy from the cuts to scientific research, education, child nutrition and other cuts.

And these cuts don't even save the government money! One example of the costs of the sequester cuts comes from the effect of cuts in the Meals On Wheels program. Because of the cuts, many elderly end up in hospitals with malnutrition-related problems, and/or are forced into nursing homes because they can no longer live at home. Aside from the cruelty and resulting human suffering (not considered a "cost") this costs money from government services including Medicare and Medicaid.

The Ongoing Damage From Obstruction

Republicans have been obstructing ... everything. The ongoing economic damage has been just incredible but because it gradually worsens things the public is not as aware as they should be. There are two obstructions taking place. In the Senate Republicans have been filibustering every bill, every nominee ... everything. In the House the "Hastert Rule" prevents the majority of the Congress from being able to vote. By preventing bills from coming up for a vote if they might be passed by a majority that includes Democrats and some "RINO" Republicans, anything that could help the country and economy is blocked.

So along with the series of manufactured crises there is a constant, ongoing drag because people have come to believe government will generally continue to hamper rather than boost economic progress. They see no jobs programs coning down the pike, see the infrastructure crumbling, and see the corporate/billionaire-favoring trade deals killing jobs.

Krugman again, from his blog post, What A Drag,

The now widely-cited Macroeconomic Advisers report estimated the cost of crisis-driven fiscal policy at 1 percentage point off the growth rate for three years, or roughly 3 percent now. More than half of this estimated cost comes from the "fiscal drag" of falling discretionary spending, with the rest coming from a (shaky) estimate of the impacts of fiscal uncertainty on borrowing costs.

The Damage Next Time

So what will the damage be next time, and how can we fight it? Yesterday's "deal" only puts off the fight for a few months. With more of this on the horizon companies will be hesitant to hire or invest. Consumers will remain wary and distrustful.

Republicans still have one power: the power to destroy. And they will use that power until we take it away from them.

Rachel Maddow On Federal Shutdown: Republicans Got NOTHING

October 18, 2013  |  

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With the federal government standstill finally coming to an end, Rachel Maddow explained on Thursday night’s show just what exactly the Republicans got out of it: Zero!

Maddow went through the long list of Republican demands, from changing federal employee pensions to denying birth control pension, in exchange for re-opening the government, only to conclude that from that entire list, the GOP came up completely empty.

"Through this process, Republicans said they would shut down the government, or, once it was shut down, they would refuse to open the government unless they got each one of these things. Of all of these things that they demanded, they got none of them! None...these have been sixteen bad days for the country and the economy,” she said. 

She added, “It may be true that nobody won, but someone definitely lost here.” 

Watch the video:

Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.

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Republicans Fulfill Their Cruel Ayn Rand Obsession With the Sequester

The cruel reality is that those who can least afford it will bear the brunt of the impending social experiment.

March 4, 2013  |  

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The following article first appeared in ColorLines.

The chaos set to be unleashed over the next month through the implementation of sequestration budget cuts is not an accident. For a large part of the Republican Party and the secretive billionaires that fund them, the disruptive shockwave that will be caused by investing less in historically marginalized communities is the point.

Since the 1970s—through ideas which can only be thought of as flawed and eccentric—an ideological band has championed an end to the education, health, transportation and housing programs that have made America more economically fair.

Now at the heart of the GOP, this group argues that these very economic justice initiatives have instead created a “culture of dependency” which they want to dissolve by using sequestration.

In point of fact, sequestration is just an extension of a broader strategy which they call “starve the beast.” The aim of “starve the beast”—a rather unfortunate metaphor given racial stereotypes from the worst of America’s past—is to deny the federal government capital in order to bring about its collapse. So to fully evaluate where we are and what comes next, it’s sadly necessary to spend time considering this off-beat philosophy—and the bizarre way it’s come to rule our lives.

Making and Taking

Adherents to “starve the beast”—which include House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan—believe that America is divided between “makers” and “takers.”

In their world view, the “makers” are the drivers of the nation’s economic growth. But they’re being held back by the “takers”—increasingly black and brown—who’ve misused the democratic process to hijack the government and funnel money away from the “makers” through taxes. Cantor himself echoed this very point during the fight over the debt ceiling in 2011.

This may sound strange to the rest of us, but to them it’s the truth.

“Starve the beast” followers argue that the economic interests of the country and of the “makers” are one in the same. They want the government to fall back and they want the “takers” put in their place. Only then will America truly prosper, or so the thinking goes.

In order to reach this anti-democratic future, their plans call for the federal government to return to its basic core functions, similar to those at the time of nation’s birth in 1776. Sticking to the areas of defense and foreign affairs, 80 percent of the federal government would disappear.

How could this come about? Through huge tax cuts and massive debt.

“Starve the beast” adherents contend that tax cuts would deprive the government of revenue, and gradually shift resources to the “makers.” With less income over time, the government would rack up enormous debts. The combination of tax cuts and a pile of IOUs would eventually force the government to eliminate most of its activities.

This may sound like a zany economic manifesto from a fake political novel, but it’s in fact from a real one. Shockingly, that novel, Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” plays a pivotal role in the argument over sequestration, and we’re playing out her quirky theories in real time.

Weird and Powerful

Ayn Rand, whose white supremacist views were woven throughout her writing, attracted a band of towering intellectuals in the 1950s and 1960s who felt increasingly out of touch with an America that was diversifying in every single way.

One of Rand’s most devoted and successful proteges was Alan Greenspan. Greenspan—part of Rand’s intellectual circle called the “Collective”—would go on to be chair of the Federal Reserve under four presidents.

Kathleen Parker: Republicans Can’t Give on Taxes Because It Would Damage Their Brand

Republicans have done a whole lot of things to damage their "brand" and still haven't figured out what to do to quit being the "stupid party" after their losses in the last election, but note to Kathleen Parker -- refusing to raise taxes in order to lower the budget deficit is not one of them. The majority of their own constituents don't agree with them on this issue, but that didn't stop Parker from pretending it would damage them on this Sunday's Meet the Press:

GREGORY: What's striking to me is that these issues are still so hard and that the elections didn't seem to solve them completely enough. […] Is that true? I mean, why didn't it?

PARKER: Why didn't it? Because, look, the Republicans cannot give on taxes. They simply can't. It would damage their brand permanently and the President is unwilling... he is insisting on raising revenue through taxes. There's no way for them to have a meeting of the minds when those differences exist and that's not going to change.

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On the News With Thom Hartmann: 131 Republicans and 60 Corporations Submitted Friend-of-the-Court Briefs...

In today's On the News segment: This week, 131 prominent Republicans and 60 major corporations submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of gay marriage to the Supreme Court; Arkansas lawmakers passed legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and then immediately backed a separate measure which would prevent abortion after just 12 weeks; the Violence Against Women Act will soon head to President Obama; and more.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the news...

You need to know this. After two failed attempts on Thursday to prevent the sequester, Congress gave up on their efforts to stop the austerity measures, and headed out of town for the weekend. One day before the deadline, two rival bills to prevent the $85 billion in spending cuts failed to get the 60 votes needed to end debate and proceed to an up-or-down vote. The Republicans only got 38 votes on their bill, which would have forced President Obama to manage the spending cuts. The Democratic bill, which would have replaced the sequester with $55 billion in spending cuts and $55 billion in new revenues, received 51 votes. Unfortunately, the Progressive Causus's Balancing Act approach wasn't even considered, despite a recent Business Insider poll that showed bipartisan voter support for the plan. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said there won't be an agreement without additional tax revenues, and he believes the Republicans want the Sequester to happen. He said, "we cannot solve the problems of this country with cuts, cuts, cuts. We've cut $2.6 trillion. We need to do more, but we're going to do it in a balanced approach." But Republicans refuse to accept any plan that includes new revenues. So for now, our country must brace for drastic cuts, which will wreak havoc on our economy. Democrats will attempt to undo the sequester during the budget debate coming at the end of this month, but by then many of the Republican austerity measures will have already begun. If Republicans don't back down on tax increases, there's little chance a replacement plan will be accepted. Now it's up to us to let Congress know that we won't stand by while Republicans use our economy to play political blame games against the President. Call Congress today and tell them to stop these insane austerity measures now!

In screwed news... Arkansas's Democratic Governor Mike Beebe tried to block a sweeping abortion ban in his state, but the Republican-led State Senate managed to override his veto. On Thursday, Arkansas lawmakers passed legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and then immediately backed a separate measure which would prevent abortion after just 12 weeks. Governor Beebe vetoed the so-called "fetal pain bill", saying he believed the law violates Roe v. Wade. He hasn't said yet if he will try to veto the more extreme anti-abortion measure, but he told reporters that "it's on even shakier legal ground than the 20-week ban." Arkansas joins seven other states with similar 20-week restrictions, and may soon have one of the most extreme anti-abortion laws in our nation. The Arkansas ACLU's executive director, Rita Sklar, said, "We are going to do everything within our power to protect the health and reproductive decision-making abilities of women." Obviously Republicans didn't learn anything from the last election. They're not just moving forward with their war on women, they're pushing full-steam-ahead.

In the best of the rest of the news...

Just this week, 131 prominent Republicans and 60 major corporations submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of gay marriage to the Supreme Court. And, the Obama Administration made history yesterday with it's own amicus brief in favor of LGBT equality. President Obama is the first president in U.S. history to push the high court to expand marriage rights to people of all sexual orientations. Two major LGBT equal rights cases will come before the Supreme Court later this month – California's Prop 8 case and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. If they're overturned, the Supreme Court rulings could pave the way for the recognition of same-sex marriages in every state in our nation. The new brief from the Administration says LGBT families "establish homes and lives together, support each other financially, share the joys and burdens of raising children, and provide care through illness and comfort at the moment of death." Marriage equality advocates, like Chad Griffin of The Human Rights Campaign, praised the President's legal position, saying, "President Obama and the solicitor general have taken another historic step forward consistent with the great civil rights battles of our nation's history." Let's hope the Supreme Court takes the next step towards equality, and overturns Prop 8 and DOMA.

After almost one year of delay, the House passed the Violence Against Women Act yesterday by a vote of 286 to 138. The bill, which received support from 199 Democrats and 87 Republicans in the House, was held up by GOP House members who opposed additional protections for Native American, LGBT, and undocumented victims of domestic abuse. All of yesterday's 138 "No" votes were Republicans. The bill will soon head to President Obama, who said, "Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk." The re-authorization of this historic law is a big victory against the Republican war on women, but the on-going attack on reproductive rights shows we have a long fight ahead!

And finally... Zookeepers in Scotland want to get their pandas in the mood for love. It's difficult to get pandas to reproduce in captivity, as females are only fertile for about two days each year, so employees at Edinburgh Zoo turned on romantic music to set the mood. Tian Tian, the zoo's female panda, will soon enter her fertile phase, so her caretakers have switched off her normal radio station, and switched on an easy listening station to help set the mood. The station they selected was so excited to be part of the process, they started to take song requests from the zoo staff. What song did zookeepers pick for their special lady? Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." A spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Zoo said it's impossible to know what panda's are thinking, but the music appears to sooth their male panda Yang Guang. Not sure what song zookeepers will pick next, but "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate is a top suggestion among panda-fans.

And that's the way it is today – Friday, March 1, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.

Senate Republicans Take a Stand Against the Public Interest

It is bizarre that Chuck Hagel, a war hero with a long record of sensible views on the deployment of military power, gets blocked as the president’s nominee to run the Pentagon, while Jack Lew, steeped in Wall Street greed, sails through as Treasury secretary. Chuck Hagel, a former two-term GOP senator from Nebraska and President Obama’s choice for Defense Secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. A Senate panel on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, abruptly postponed a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary. (Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

There is, of course, nothing new about a Treasury secretary having profited from high-level Wall Street connections. After all, Robert Rubin and Hank Paulson, two former honchos at Goldman Sachs, headed the Treasury in the Clinton and Bush administrations, respectively. And Timothy Geithner, whom Lew would be replacing, was head of the New York Federal Reserve when it acted to bail out the too-big-to-fail financial hustlers led by AIG and Citigroup. The revolving door between Wall Street and the Treasury is the key cause of the Great Recession.

So, what’s the big deal that Lew ran two divisions at Citigroup for three years when homeowners were swindled out of their life savings? What’s a $2 million payout to Lew compared with the well over $100 million that Rubin got at that same bank during the years he helped steer it to disaster? In Lew’s case there was also the matter of his investing in one of Citigroup’s offshore schemes on the Cayman Islands that President Obama had roundly condemned, but the few Republicans who brought it up at the nominee’s confirmation hearing this week offered only a mild rebuke for such chicanery.

The big deal, ignored by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee and underplayed by the Republican critics, is that the Treasury Department, under two presidents during this financial crisis, has bailed out the banksters while doing next to nothing to help the victims of those institutions. Even now, in the third stage of a “quantitative easing” that will leave $4 trillion in taxpayer debt, the Federal Reserve, with the Treasury’s blessing, continues to bail out the banks by taking toxic assets off their books while the banks refuse to undertake any serious mortgage readjustments. 

The appointment of Lew might make sense if he had learned from his Wall Street experience that the era of unfettered greed ushered in by the deregulation mania of the Clinton and Bush years has proved a disaster. But Lew is anything but a Wall Street turncoat and continues to feign ignorance as to the causes of the banking disaster. Even though he profited mightily from his years at Citigroup—whose merger between investment and commercial banking was made legal only by the reversal of Glass-Steagall—he denies that deregulation had anything to do with that bank’s ruinous practices.

Asked at a previous confirmation hearing by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., whether deregulation had contributed to the crisis, Lew responded: “I don’t personally know the extent to which deregulation drove it, but I don’t think deregulation was the proximate cause.” Yet Obama now inexplicably turns to Lew to help reregulate the system. Why look to a perp rather than a victim to redress the crime?

The irony in the simultaneous rejection of Hagel by some senators is that he has been a victim of the irrational application of military power. Hagel, severely wounded during the Vietnam War that few today would argue ever made any national security sense, has long urged caution in foreign military involvement. Hawks complain that he opposed the surge in the U.S. presence in Iraq after having at first gone along with the war. Hagel should be admired for having honored the “fool me once” maxim in not wanting to escalate an invasion justified by blatant lies, but instead his prudence has been scorned.

The case is the same with Hagel’s courage to dare to suggest that Israel’s outsized influence on U.S. Mideast policy may be counterproductive to efforts to find a way to end almost a half-century of occupation of the Palestinian people. There are plenty of well-informed citizens on the front lines in Israel who would agree, but few in ruling U.S. political circles.   

The Republicans have turned on Hagel because he dared turn on them in the 2008 election when he refused to endorse Sen. John McCain. All other objections to his nomination are just noise, and what is really at issue is the failure to consider the national interest in its most dangerous manifestation: the waging of war. In contrast to their tepid objections to Lew, who will be easily confirmed, the Republicans still seem determined to derail the Hagel nomination. It is clear that their motivation in both confirmation processes is nothing but partisan and that the public interest will once again be ignored.

© 2012 TruthDig.com

Robert Scheer

Robert Scheer is editor of Truthdig.com and a regular columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.

US in jeopardy? Republicans block Hagel’s appointment as Defense Sec

Former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel.(Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

Former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel.(Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

Republican lawmakers have delayed a vote on Chuck Hagel’s candidacy defense secretary, defying President Obama’s nomination. Democrats decried the Republicans as jeopardizing US national security by delaying Hagel’s appointment.

In a near-party-line vote, a majority of Republicans moved to filibuster Hagel’s nomination. The vote tallied 58 in favor to 40 opposed, falling just short of the 60 votes necessary to escape a filibuster and move Hagel’s nomination through the Senate for final approval.

Republicans justified their decision by saying they required the release of further information on the September 2012 attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

The Republican move was met with fury by Democrats, who slammed it as “tragic,” and an attempt to obstruct the political process. It was the first time this political tactic had been used to delay the appointment of a US Defense Secretary.

"Senate Republicans have made it clear they intend to mount a full-scale filibuster, and block the Senate from holding a final passage vote on Senator Hagel's nomination," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said while addressing the Senate after the vote. He stressed that Republicans were embarking on an attempt at “filibustering while submitting extraneous requests that will never be satisfied.”

President Obama echoed the anti-Republican sentiment in a question-and-answer session organized by Google+, in which he expressed regret that the politics of the vote “intrudes at a time when I'm still presiding over a war in Afghanistan.”

"My expectation and hope is that Chuck Hagel, who richly deserves to get a vote on the floor of the Senate, will be confirmed as our defense secretary," Obama said.

Since President Obama announced ex-Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his nominee for Secretary of Defense, the Republican Party has been up in arms over his nomination.

The Vietnam veteran is a known anti-war activist, and had previously clashed with Republican lawmakers over his criticism of the “Jewish lobby” in Washington, and for refusing to push for a strike against Iran.

Additionally, his performance at his confirmation hearing raised doubts over his nomination. Critics said that Hagel reacted poorly under aggressive questioning, and appeared unprepared at times.

Hagel severed his links with the Republican Party over ex-President George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq War, angering many party members.
Despite being known as an anti-war advocate, since his nomination, Hagel has made warmongering remarks such as claiming the US should be prepared for a possible strike on Iran. He also stressed the importance of the US-Israel relationship, contradicting his previous opposition to Washington’s “Jewish lobby.”

This about-face in policy has led to confusion amongst US lawmakers, as well as speculation that he may be pandering to his former Republican colleagues.

Senate Republicans Take a Stand Against the Public Interest

Senate Republicans Take a Stand Against the Public Interest

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Posted on Feb 14, 2013
AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Chuck Hagel, a former two-term GOP senator from Nebraska and President Obama’s choice for Defense Secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. A Senate panel on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, abruptly postponed a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary.

By Robert Scheer

It is bizarre that Chuck Hagel, a war hero with a long record of sensible views on the deployment of military power, gets blocked as the president’s nominee to run the Pentagon, while Jack Lew, steeped in Wall Street greed, sails through as Treasury secretary. 

There is, of course, nothing new about a Treasury secretary having profited from high-level Wall Street connections. After all, Robert Rubin and Hank Paulson, two former honchos at Goldman Sachs, headed the Treasury in the Clinton and Bush administrations, respectively. And Timothy Geithner, whom Lew would be replacing, was head of the New York Federal Reserve when it acted to bail out the too-big-to-fail financial hustlers led by AIG and Citigroup. The revolving door between Wall Street and the Treasury is the key cause of the Great Recession.

So, what’s the big deal that Lew ran two divisions at Citigroup for three years when homeowners were swindled out of their life savings? What’s a $2 million payout to Lew compared with the well over $100 million that Rubin got at that same bank during the years he helped steer it to disaster? In Lew’s case there was also the matter of his investing in one of Citigroup’s offshore schemes on the Cayman Islands that President Obama had roundly condemned, but the few Republicans who brought it up at the nominee’s confirmation hearing this week offered only a mild rebuke for such chicanery.

The big deal, ignored by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee and underplayed by the Republican critics, is that the Treasury Department, under two presidents during this financial crisis, has bailed out the banksters while doing next to nothing to help the victims of those institutions. Even now, in the third stage of a “quantitative easing” that will leave $4 trillion in taxpayer debt, the Federal Reserve, with the Treasury’s blessing, continues to bail out the banks by taking toxic assets off their books while the banks refuse to undertake any serious mortgage readjustments. 

The appointment of Lew might make sense if he had learned from his Wall Street experience that the era of unfettered greed ushered in by the deregulation mania of the Clinton and Bush years has proved a disaster. But Lew is anything but a Wall Street turncoat and continues to feign ignorance as to the causes of the banking disaster. Even though he profited mightily from his years at Citigroup—whose merger between investment and commercial banking was made legal only by the reversal of Glass-Steagall—he denies that deregulation had anything to do with that bank’s ruinous practices.

Asked at a previous confirmation hearing by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., whether deregulation had contributed to the crisis, Lew responded: “I don’t personally know the extent to which deregulation drove it, but I don’t think deregulation was the proximate cause.” Yet Obama now inexplicably turns to Lew to help reregulate the system. Why look to a perp rather than a victim to redress the crime?

The irony in the simultaneous rejection of Hagel by some senators is that he has been a victim of the irrational application of military power. Hagel, severely wounded during the Vietnam War that few today would argue ever made any national security sense, has long urged caution in foreign military involvement. Hawks complain that he opposed the surge in the U.S. presence in Iraq after having at first gone along with the war. Hagel should be admired for having honored the “fool me once” maxim in not wanting to escalate an invasion justified by blatant lies, but instead his prudence has been scorned.

The case is the same with Hagel’s courage to dare to suggest that Israel’s outsized influence on U.S. Mideast policy may be counterproductive to efforts to find a way to end almost a half-century of occupation of the Palestinian people. There are plenty of well-informed citizens on the front lines in Israel who would agree, but few in ruling U.S. political circles.   

The Republicans have turned on Hagel because he dared turn on them in the 2008 election when he refused to endorse Sen. John McCain. All other objections to his nomination are just noise, and what is really at issue is the failure to consider the national interest in its most dangerous manifestation: the waging of war. In contrast to their tepid objections to Lew, who will be easily confirmed, the Republicans still seem determined to derail the Hagel nomination. It is clear that their motivation in both confirmation processes is nothing but partisan and that the public interest will once again be ignored.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s new book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”

Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.

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Did the Republicans Shoot Down the Keystone XL Pipeline?

Think of it as a prospective irony: in a spirit of pure, blind partisanship, the drill-baby-drill folks in the Republican Party may have done themselves in.  After all, their obsession with the Benghazi incident led them to launch a preemptive strike against the president's choice for secretary of state, Susan Rice, for her statements on what happened when the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were murdered there.  They sent her nomination down in flames.  In the process, it’s just possible that they took out something far dearer to them. Susan Rice, once Obama's top pick for Secretary of State, had large financial holdings in international pipeline companies but was forced to withdraw her consideration for the position following a vicious GOP crusade surrounding the assault in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead. (File).

Though it didn’t get much attention during her disastrous nomination moment, we did learn that Rice and her husband had made significant investments in companies connected to the Canadian tar-sands industry and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is to bring the resulting crude (and carbon-dirty) oil 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast.  They reportedly had $300,000-$600,000 in stock in TransCanada, the company building the pipeline. 

In addition, “about a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel,” including Enbridge, a company which hopes to build another tar-sands pipeline.  Had she been secretary of state, she might have had one of the great conflicts of interest of our time (or a major divestment problem).

Congress seems desperate to see that pipeline built.  More than half the Senate -- 44 Republicans, including key Rice opponent John McCain, and nine Democrats -- signed a letter to that effect, but it matters little.  Because of the international border Keystone XL crosses, only two people stand between us and its construction, the secretary of state and President Obama, who alone will make the final decision on whether the project should proceed. The president's second choice for secretary of state, who recently swept through the nomination process, is of course former Senator John Kerry, a “climate hawk” who has already said that he will be deeply involved in the State Department's review of the pipeline.  (It’s worth noting that TransCanada, trying to cover all its bases, hired one of Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign staffers as a lobbyist, along with “heavyweights” from past Obama and Hillary Clinton presidential runs, and that Kerry does have to divest himself of holdings in two Canadian energy companies which have supported the pipeline.)

No one, of course, can know what the new secretary of state and the president will decide.  They are, however, already being pushed hard by a growing coalition of environmentally oriented groups, fearful of what it would mean to get all those tar sands out of the ground and (as carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere.  In addition, this coming Sunday, February 17th, an enormous “forward on climate” rally is to take place in Washington.  Originally organized by 350.org and Bill McKibben but now involving dozens of groups, it is expected to draw worried protestors (including this writer) from all over to demonstrate on the National Mall.  The goal is, in part, to push President Obama to make the necessary decision on the Keystone pipeline.  It’s remarkable that one man has the power to shoot this project down.  As energy expert Michael Klare explains in his latest piece, “A Presidential Decision That Could Change the World,” should he do so, the tar-sands industry might never recover.  That would lend a genuine hand to our over-heating planet, which means there has seldom been a situation where demonstrations to pressure a president were more in order.

© 2013 TomDispatch.com

Tom Engelhardt

Did the Republicans Shoot Down the Keystone XL Pipeline?

Think of it as a prospective irony: in a spirit of pure, blind partisanship, the drill-baby-drill folks in the Republican Party may have done themselves in.  After all, their obsession with the Benghazi incident led them to launch a preemptive strike against the president's choice for secretary of state, Susan Rice, for her statements on what happened when the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were murdered there.  They sent her nomination down in flames.  In the process, it’s just possible that they took out something far dearer to them. Susan Rice, once Obama's top pick for Secretary of State, had large financial holdings in international pipeline companies but was forced to withdraw her consideration for the position following a vicious GOP crusade surrounding the assault in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead. (File).

Though it didn’t get much attention during her disastrous nomination moment, we did learn that Rice and her husband had made significant investments in companies connected to the Canadian tar-sands industry and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is to bring the resulting crude (and carbon-dirty) oil 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast.  They reportedly had $300,000-$600,000 in stock in TransCanada, the company building the pipeline. 

In addition, “about a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel,” including Enbridge, a company which hopes to build another tar-sands pipeline.  Had she been secretary of state, she might have had one of the great conflicts of interest of our time (or a major divestment problem).

Congress seems desperate to see that pipeline built.  More than half the Senate -- 44 Republicans, including key Rice opponent John McCain, and nine Democrats -- signed a letter to that effect, but it matters little.  Because of the international border Keystone XL crosses, only two people stand between us and its construction, the secretary of state and President Obama, who alone will make the final decision on whether the project should proceed. The president's second choice for secretary of state, who recently swept through the nomination process, is of course former Senator John Kerry, a “climate hawk” who has already said that he will be deeply involved in the State Department's review of the pipeline.  (It’s worth noting that TransCanada, trying to cover all its bases, hired one of Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign staffers as a lobbyist, along with “heavyweights” from past Obama and Hillary Clinton presidential runs, and that Kerry does have to divest himself of holdings in two Canadian energy companies which have supported the pipeline.)

No one, of course, can know what the new secretary of state and the president will decide.  They are, however, already being pushed hard by a growing coalition of environmentally oriented groups, fearful of what it would mean to get all those tar sands out of the ground and (as carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere.  In addition, this coming Sunday, February 17th, an enormous “forward on climate” rally is to take place in Washington.  Originally organized by 350.org and Bill McKibben but now involving dozens of groups, it is expected to draw worried protestors (including this writer) from all over to demonstrate on the National Mall.  The goal is, in part, to push President Obama to make the necessary decision on the Keystone pipeline.  It’s remarkable that one man has the power to shoot this project down.  As energy expert Michael Klare explains in his latest piece, “A Presidential Decision That Could Change the World,” should he do so, the tar-sands industry might never recover.  That would lend a genuine hand to our over-heating planet, which means there has seldom been a situation where demonstrations to pressure a president were more in order.

© 2013 TomDispatch.com

Tom Engelhardt

Republicans Take Abusers’ Side on VAWA

(Image: Screenshot via TPM media)It’s amazing to me that some Republicans and rightwing groups are intent on holding up the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Doing so shows not only boorish insensitivity but also a startling tone-deafness, since Republicans turned women away in droves last November by their Neanderthal comments on rape.

But that’s not stopping groups like the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks from taking the side of abusive men right now.

As Talking Points Memo notes, the Heritage Foundation is bemoaning the fact that the reauthorization includes prosecution for “emotional distress,” and says that would lead to an increase in “fraud and false allegations.”

FreedomWorks also took the side of the stalker: “A man that raises his voice at his partner, calls her an offensive name, stalks her, causes her any emotional distress, or simply just annoys her can potentially be prosecuted under the VAWA. Calling your spouse a mean name is not advised or polite, but it isn’t the same thing as violence towards her.”

Wow!

For some Republican legislators, the main sticking point, at the moment, seems to be about Native women, who have been victimized by a ridiculous loophole in our nation’s laws, a loophole that makes it almost impossible to prosecute a white man who rapes a Native woman on tribal land.

I first became aware of this issue when one of our writers for The Progressive, Mary Annette Pember, came to me with a story idea about this jurisdictional nightmare. Pember, who had been the head of the Native American Journalists Association, said Native women were being raped with impunity.

She told me that Native women are raped at a higher rate than any other demographic group, and they often have no legal recourse because of jurisdictional issue. I found that hard to believe, but it’s true.

In her astonishing article, “Silent No More,” Pember reported that “86 percent of rapes reported by Indian women involve a perpetrator outside of their race.” Very few of these rapes are ever prosecuted. She wrote: “For American Indian women, however, these facts are old news—really old news. It has been open season on American Indian women in this country for more than 200 years.”

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act would empower Native courts to prosecute non-Natives who commit crimes on Indian land.

Native women should no longer be stuck in “no woman’s land.”

That rightwingers are even fighting this is beyond reprehensible.

© 2013 The Progressive

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

Republicans Take Abusers’ Side on VAWA

(Image: Screenshot via TPM media)It’s amazing to me that some Republicans and rightwing groups are intent on holding up the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Doing so shows not only boorish insensitivity but also a startling tone-deafness, since Republicans turned women away in droves last November by their Neanderthal comments on rape.

But that’s not stopping groups like the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks from taking the side of abusive men right now.

As Talking Points Memo notes, the Heritage Foundation is bemoaning the fact that the reauthorization includes prosecution for “emotional distress,” and says that would lead to an increase in “fraud and false allegations.”

FreedomWorks also took the side of the stalker: “A man that raises his voice at his partner, calls her an offensive name, stalks her, causes her any emotional distress, or simply just annoys her can potentially be prosecuted under the VAWA. Calling your spouse a mean name is not advised or polite, but it isn’t the same thing as violence towards her.”

Wow!

For some Republican legislators, the main sticking point, at the moment, seems to be about Native women, who have been victimized by a ridiculous loophole in our nation’s laws, a loophole that makes it almost impossible to prosecute a white man who rapes a Native woman on tribal land.

I first became aware of this issue when one of our writers for The Progressive, Mary Annette Pember, came to me with a story idea about this jurisdictional nightmare. Pember, who had been the head of the Native American Journalists Association, said Native women were being raped with impunity.

She told me that Native women are raped at a higher rate than any other demographic group, and they often have no legal recourse because of jurisdictional issue. I found that hard to believe, but it’s true.

In her astonishing article, “Silent No More,” Pember reported that “86 percent of rapes reported by Indian women involve a perpetrator outside of their race.” Very few of these rapes are ever prosecuted. She wrote: “For American Indian women, however, these facts are old news—really old news. It has been open season on American Indian women in this country for more than 200 years.”

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act would empower Native courts to prosecute non-Natives who commit crimes on Indian land.

Native women should no longer be stuck in “no woman’s land.”

That rightwingers are even fighting this is beyond reprehensible.

© 2013 The Progressive

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

Kristol: Republicans Should Stop Talking About Rebranding and Stick to Obstructing Obama

Someone needs to explain the definition of insanity to Bloody Bill Kristol. During a discussion on Fox' Special Report With Bret Baier, Kristol was asked about the Republicans and their recent efforts to "rebrand" the party, and it seems Kristol bel...

Republicans: Rebranding vs. Rethinking

Republicans: Rebranding vs. Rethinking

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Posted on Feb 6, 2013
Flickr/DonkeyHotey

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

WASHINGTON—Rebranding is trendy in the Republican Party.

Rep. Eric Cantor gave a major speech on Tuesday to advance the effort. Gov. Bobby Jindal wants the GOP to stop being the “stupid party.” Karl Rove is setting up a PAC (it’s what he does these days) to defeat right-wing crazies who cost the party Senate seats.

But there’s a big difference between rebranding—this implies the product is fine but needs to be sold better—and pursuing a different approach to governing. Here’s an early action report.

The good news: Some Republicans have decided the party moved too far to the right and are backing off long-standing positions on tax increases, guns and immigration. Their new flexibility, combined with President Obama’s new post-election aggressiveness, is producing a quiet revolution in Washington. The place is becoming less dysfunctional.

Congress has already passed a substantial tax increase, Republicans avoided a debt ceiling fight, and the ice is breaking on guns and immigration.

The mixed news: A lot of the rebranding efforts are superficial yet nonetheless reflect an awareness that the party has been asking the wrong questions, talking about the wrong issues and limiting the range of voters it’s been addressing.

This is why Cantor’s speech was more important than the policies he outlined, which were primarily conservative retreads. His intervention proved that Obama and progressives are changing the terms of the debate, much as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s.

Cantor wasn’t making the case for smaller government or tax cuts for the “job creators.” He was asking what government could do for the middle class—“to provide relief to so many millions of Americans who just want their life to work again.”

No wonder Sen. Charles Schumer, one of the Democrats’ most subtle strategists, jumped at the chance to praise Cantor for taking “the first step towards finding common ground in agreeing on the problem you are trying to solve.” If the debate is about who will be nicer to business or who will cut taxes, Republicans win. What Schumer understands is that if the issue is providing relief for the middle class (and for workers, immigrants and low-income children), Republicans are competing over questions on which progressives have the advantage.

The bad news: In some states where Republicans control all the levers of power, they are rushing ahead with astonishingly right-wing programs to eviscerate government while shifting the tax burden toward the middle class and the poor and away from the wealthy. In trying to build Koch Brothers’ dystopias, they are turning states in laboratories of reaction.

As Neil King Jr. and Mark Peters reported in a Wall Street Journal article on the “Red State model,” Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has slashed both income taxes and spending. This drew fire from moderate and moderately conservative Republican legislators, whom he then helped purge in primaries. Jindal is talking about ending Louisiana’s personal and corporate income taxes and replacing the revenue with sales tax increases—a stunningly naked transfer of resources from the poor and the middle class to the rich.

This deeply anti-majoritarian, anti-populist approach explains the really bad news: Some Republicans show signs of no longer worrying about winning majorities at all. They have already put in place a gerrymander that has created a now-misnamed House of Representatives since it’s unrepresentative of how voters cast their ballots in congressional races last fall. Some are trying to rig the Electoral College in a way that would have let Mitt Romney win the presidency even as he lost by just under 5 million popular votes.

And they are willing to use the Senate’s arcane rules and right-wing courts in tandem to foil the policy wishes of a majority of Congress and the president—witness the precedent-less U.S. Court of Appeals ruling voiding Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. The president took this course because intransigent Republican senators blocked the nominations. There should be a greater outcry against such an anti-democratic power play.

What’s the overall balance sheet? Level Republican heads seem to be pushing against the Electoral College rigging effort. The “Red State model” is likely to take hold in only a few states—and may provoke a backlash. The larger lesson may be the one Cantor offered: Republicans are slowly realizing that the nation’s priorities are not the GOP’s traditional priorities. If Republicans really do start asking better questions, they will come up with better—and less extreme—answers. 

E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2013, Washington Post Writers Group

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Republicans lash out at Ron Paul for tweet regarding Navy SEAL’s death

Congressman Ron Paul.(Reuters / Mark Makela)

Congressman Ron Paul.(Reuters / Mark Makela)

Former congressman and presidential contender Ron Paul is coming under attack from his own longtime political party after sending out a controversial tweet regarding the death of an ex-Navy SEAL sniper.

Rep. Paul, who only recently retired from Congress after over 20 years as a Republican representative for Texas, chimed in on Twitter over the weekend to comment on the tragic death of Chris Kyle, a 38-year-old former military marksman considered by the Pentagon to be the most deadly sniper in American military history.

Kyle was credited with 160 confirmed kills while on duty, but on Saturday was executed at the Texas shooting range where he regularly took fellow vets “as a kind of therapy to salve battlefield scars,” friends of the deceased tell the New York Times. Kyle was at the range near Glen Rose, Texas when fellow veteran Eddie Ray Routh, a 25-year-old Marine, opened fire and killed both Kyle and colleague Chad Littlefield with a semiautomatic handgun.

Routh served tours in Iraq and was reportedly brought to the shooting range as a means of treating his post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

“Chad and Chris had taken a veteran out to shoot to try to help him,” a friend of Kyle’s adds to the Times, “And they were killed.”

Rep. Paul, a veteran himself, openly responded to the news on Monday, tweeting that afternoon from his @RonPaul Twitter account.

“Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that ‘he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’ Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense,” he wrote.

Less than two days after the congressman made the remark, Rep. Paul’s comment has been retweeted nearly 1,000 times. Addressing Kyle’s death only hours after the incident occurred, however, the quip caused a backlash of sorts by many, including fellow Republicans, who felt offended by the former lawmaker’s remark.

“Really?” responded conservative talk show host Doc Washburn. “You served in the US Air Force. So by your logic, why are you still around? @RonPaul You're not fit to tie Chris Kyle's shoes.”

“Hey @ronpaul have you lost you mind?” added Afghan War veteran and Medal of Honor winner Dakota Meyer, 24. “That sword protected your freedom. Guess since I live by it I deserve to get murdered as well? #wow”

In one report regarding the tweet published by the conservative-leaning Daily Caller, nearly 2000 people have posted responses to the congressman’s comment. As the blowback intensified, Paul’s camp clarified the lawmaker’s remarks in a separate post published on his official Facebook page:

“As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend's violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad event. My condolences and prayers go out to Mr. Kyle’s family. Unconstitutional and unnecessary wars have endless unintended consequences. A policy of non-violence, as Christ preached, would have prevented this and similar tragedies,” Rep. Paul wrote.

Rep. Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), made a statement to Breitbart News that reads, “Chris Kyle was a hero like all Americans who don the uniform to defend our country. Our prayers are with his family during this tragic time.”

Republicans and Immigration Pinata

Republicans and Immigration Pinata

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Posted on Feb 4, 2013

Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

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How Republicans Think: ‘Video Games Are A Bigger Problem Than Guns’

Ok, so not all Republicans think like this, but then again not all of them are U.S. Senators from Tennessee like Lamar Alexander. Here's his verbatim quote to Chuck Todd yesterday morning: LAMAR ALEXANDER: "I think video games is a bigger problem t...

Jon Stewart Eviscerates Republicans’ Logic During Gun Violence Hearings

Stewart revisits Wednesday's four-hour carnival of conservative contradictions.

February 1, 2013  |  

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Republicans invoked all kinds of insane logic during the Senate hearing on gun violence Wednesday. For Jon Stewart, the four-hour carnival was a gold mine for conservative contradictions. Wayne LaPierre invoked both governmental "tyranny" and "abandonment" as strong cases for second amendment rights, two scenarios completely at odds with one another. As Stewart put it, our government seems to be on "the verge of both fascism and impotence."

Stewart also took on Gayle Trotter, of the Independent Woman's Forum, who hilariously claimed that "the AR-15 is women's weapon of choice." Trotter used an anecdote about a young women who protected herself from intruders with a gun she kept at home. What she failed to mention was that her weapon, a Remington shotgun, would not be banned under the proposed gun control statute.

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Appointing Senators, Be They Republicans or Democrats, Is Wrong

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has rejected former Congressman Barney Frank’s request that he be appointed to fill the vacancy created by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. (Photo: Rappaport Center via Flickr)Senator John Kerry’s resignation to serve as secretary of state. Despite the fact that progressive groups urged the Frank pick for the temporary slot—arguing that the former congressman could play a critical, perhaps definitional, role in budget fights over cutting Pentagon waste and taxing speculators—the governor instead picked his former chief of staff.

The new senator, William “Mo” Cowan, has long been close to the governor, having formerly served as Patrick’s legal counsel. He’s experienced, capable and politically connected, a well-regarded lawyer who has worked not just with Patrick but also with former Governor Mitt Romney (whom Cowan helped identify judicial picks). He’ll be the state’s second African-American senator, after liberal Republican Ed Brooke, who served in the 1960s and 1970s. As a lawyer, Cowan has been active with the American Constitution Society—joining in the society’s “work  to advance the progressive values and principles of the U.S. Constitution”—which counts for a lot with Americans who seek to challenge right-wing judicial activism.

But, as with his selection of former Democratic National Committee Paul Kirk to fill the interim vacancy created by the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, Patrick has gone with a connected insider rather than someone who is likely to shake things up in the Senate.

Patrick says he’s now got “a valued ally” in the Senate.

And there is no reason to doubt that this is the case.

But, of course, this is the problem with letting governors, be they Republicans or Democrats, appoint US senators. The Massachusetts circumstance is less troublesome than in states such as Hawaii and South Carolina, which will be represented for more than two years by recently appointed senators. A special election in June will replace Cowan with a senator chosen by the voters.

But gubernatorial appointments of senators, be they for a few months, or for a few years, make the United States Senate, never a perfectly representative body, a good deal less representative.

Cowan will join three appointed senators in the chamber during what Barney Frank correctly identified as a particularly critical period in the chamber.

Another new senator, Tim Scott, has been appointed by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, rather than elected by the people of that state. The same goes for Brian Schatz, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie’s pick to fill the vacancy created by the death of Senator Dan Inouye.

Cowan, Schatz and Scott come from different parties and different ideological backgrounds. There is every reason to believe they will serve honorably, and ably. Progressives are already excited by some of what Schatz has done, while conservatives are enthusiastic about Scott.

But none of these details change the fact that a trio of unelected senators will be powerful, perhaps even definitional, figures in what is supposed to be a representative body. They will play critical roles in deciding whether to approve or reject cabinet nominees and Supreme Court selections, they will vote on tax policies and budget measures and they will decide whether to crack the “debt ceiling”—or send young men and women off to war. But they will do so without democratic legitimacy.

No member of Congress should serve without having been elected by the people of the district or state they represent.

Unfortunately, the new Senate will have at least three members who serve not as representatives but as mandarins—appointees assigned to positions by governors who have assumed dubious authority.

The point here ought not be to do disparage Cowan, Shatz or Scott.

The point is to raise a concern about the fact that more laws will be proposed, more filibusters will be sustained, more critical votes will be tipped in one direction or another by “senators” who never earned a single vote for the positions they are holding.

Why?

Because of a deliberate misreading of the vague 1913 amendment to the US Constitution that replaced the old system of appointing senators with one that said they were all supposed to be directly elected.

The Seventeenth Amendment sought to end the corrupt, and corrupting, process of appointing senators. But a loophole was included to give governors the authority to make temporary appointments. That meant that, while no one has ever been allowed to serve in the US House of Representatives without having first been elected, dozens of men and women have served in the Senate without having been elected. And those appointed senators often serve for two full years, as will South Carolina’s Scott and Hawaii’s Senator Schatz, both of whom will serve until at least 2015. To the end of the 113th Congress, senators chosen by individual governor in South Carolina and Hawaii will have the same authority as a senator elected by 7,748,994 voters (California Democrat Dianne Feinstein).

Former House Judiciacy Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), rightly points out that this is a fundamental voting-rights issue. It is, as well, a question of “basic consistency in how our Representatives in Congress are elected.” Says Conyers: “The Constitution has always required that House vacancies be filled by election. The Senate should not be subject to a different standard. Americans should always have a direct say in who represents them in Congress—in both Houses, all of the time.”

Conyers was a key House backer of former US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), when the then-chairman of the Senate Judiciacy Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution tried to amend the Constitution to address the problem.

Feingold’s proposal, which would have required special elections to fill all Senate vacancies, got a little bit of traction when Feingold was still serving in the Senate. In 2009, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution approved Feingold’s proposed amendment to end gubernatorial appointments to vacant Senate seats.

Recalling a series of appointments following the 2008 election, Feingold said: “I applaud my colleagues on the subcommittee for passing the Senate Vacancies Amendment, which will end an anti-democratic process that denies voters the opportunity to determine who represents them in the US Senate. The nation witnessed four gubernatorial appointments to Senate seats earlier this year, some mired in controversy, and we will soon see another one in Texas. This will leave more than 20 percent of Americans represented by a senator whom they did not elect.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), was not enthusiastic about the amendment. He defended the appointment of senators, saying, “In the state of Nevada the governor appoints. Even though we have a Republican governor now I think that’s the way it should be so I don’t support his legislation.”

No one with a taste for democracy can possibly respect the majority leader’s position on appointed senators.

More thoughtful senators, including the number-two Democrat in the chamber, Illinoisan Dick Durbin, co-sponsored Feingold’s amendment.

Reid got that one wrong. Feingold got it right.

“It is time to finish the job started by the great progressive Bob La Follette of Wisconsin to require the direct election of senators,” the former senator from Wisconsin said in 2009. “No one can represent the American people in the House of Representatives without the approval of the voters. The same should be true for the Senate. I hope the full Senate Judiciary Committee will soon get the chance to consider this important constitutional amendment to entrust the people, not state governors, with the power to select U.S. senators.”

The worst deficit facing America is the democracy deficit.

It can be addressed, at least in part, by making the Senate a representative chamber.

Feingold can’t complete the process he began. But his former colleagues, led by Dick Durbin, should do so. As Durbin said several years ago when he chaired a hearing on the issue: “Over a half century ago, Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said: ‘No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.’ The same might be said of special elections to fill vacant U.S. Senate seats—they are the worst way to fill such seats, except for all the others.”

© 2013 The Nation

John Nichols

Dear Republicans: It’s Not Your ‘Messaging’. It’s You.


Psst, Bobby? You can't stop 'being' the stupid party. You can only stop acting stupid!

Once, when I was embroiled in some relationship drama, I said to one of my male friends, "Why doesn't he just tell me if he doesn't want to be with me?" My friend paused and finally said, "Look, he's telling you in every way he can without actually using the words."

I never forgot that. Rejection is so painful, people tie themselves in knots just to avoid the soul-crushing reality. And it sounds like the Republicans are still in that stage where they just can't acknowledge the truth: It's not the way you look or that extra ten pounds. It's you. The voters just aren't into you!

But instead of real change, you just know they're going for the new hairdo. Jamelle Bouie writes in the American Prospect:

Mitt Romney didn’t just lose to Obama in the 2012 presidential election: He underperformed. The consensus projection from political scientists and election forecasters was that it would be a close election, with a slight advantage for President Obama. Romney wouldn’t win, but he would come close to breaking 50 percent. This, it turns out, was too optimistic for the former Massachusetts governor, who lost by 4 million votes. In the end, he finished with 47.1 percent of the vote, a small improvement over John McCain’s performance in 2008.

Fundamentals can explain Obama’s win, but they don’t account for Romney’s surprisingly small share of the vote—and they certainly don’t explain the GOP’s poor performance in Senate elections, where mainstream and Tea Party Republicans lost to their Democratic counterparts. Twenty-twelve began as the year Republicans would win a majority in the Senate, and ended as the year Democrats expanded their advantage.

Exit polls provide a few clues about why voters rejected the Republican Party at all levels. Thirty-eight percent of voters said unemployment was the biggest issue facing people like themselves, and of them, 54 percent voted for President Obama. Fifty-five percent of voters said the U.S. economic system favors the wealthy (71 percent of them voted for Obama), and 53 percent said Mitt Romney’s policies “generally favor the wealthy” (87 percent voted for Obama).

If you weren’t well-off—if you were struggling—you didn’t vote for Romney; the GOP had nothing to offer you. Romney might disparage politicians who give “gifts” to the public, but the fact of the matter is that voters support leaders who provide—or can promise—tangible benefits. At most, Republicans promised greater “growth” from cutting taxes, slashing spending, and reducing regulations.

Americans didn’t bite, because those policies don’t work (they remember the previous administration) and because they don’t trust Republicans to govern (they remember the previous administration). The GOP brand is still reeling from the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush. To wit, 53 percent of voters last year said Bush was responsible for our current economic problems, compared with 38 percent for Obama. It’s no wonder voters gave Obama a second term—it takes more than four years to clean up a mess of that magnitude.

Any attempt to fix the problems of the Republican Party—to build a conservatism attuned to the needs of ordinary people—needs to start with an examination of the Bush years. So far, however, Republicans seem uninterested in self-reflection. The most prominent voices in the party—Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, Florida senator Marco Rubio, Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan, Texas senator Ted Cruz—insist on purity as the way back to power. If Bush failed, it’s because he spent too much. Unmentioned is everything else—the belligerence, the wars, the general incompetence.

Finally, the Swaggering Republicans Are Afraid

House Speaker Boehner warned his fellow GOPers that Obama may be preparing “to annihilate” the GOP, marking a stunning reversal of fortune.

January 25, 2013  |  

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During a  private luncheon of the Republican Ripon Society on Tuesday, Boehner cited Obama’s progressive agenda as outlined in his Second Inaugural Address as representing an existential threat to the GOP.

“It’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans,” Boehner said. “So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party.” The Ohio Republican also claimed that it was Obama’s goal “to just shove us into the dustbin of history.”

Of course, Boehner may be wildly exaggerating the Republican plight to shock the party out of its funk, raise more money, and get right-wing activists back to the barricades. Still, his comments marked a remarkable reversal of fortune, like the playground bully getting his nose bloodied and running to the teacher in tears.

Even if hyped from political effect, Boehner’s lament also might force some progressives to rethink their negative views about President Obama. If indeed Obama has gotten the upper hand on America’s swaggering Right, then he might not be the political wimp that many on the Left have pegged him to be.

Without doubt, America’s political landscape has shifted from what it was just eight years ago when President George W. Bush was talking about using his political capital to privatize Social Security and Bush’s political guru, Karl Rove, was  contemplating an enduring Republican control of all three branches of the U.S. government.

As part of that Zeitgeist of 2005, as Bush entered his second term, right-wing activist Grover Norquist joked about keeping the Democrats around as neutered farm animals. The president of Americans for Tax Reform – most famous for getting Republicans to pledge never to raise taxes – told the Washington Post that congressional Democrats should grow accustomed to having no power and no reproductive ability.

“Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans,” Norquist said. “Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant. But when they’ve been ‘fixed,’ then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful.”

How We Got There

That moment of right-wing arrogance represented a culmination of decades of hardball Republican politics, a take-no-prisoners style that usually encountered only the softest of responses from the Democrats and progressives.

Arguably the pattern was set in fall 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson learned that GOP presidential nominee Nixon was sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks to ensure his victory over Vice President Hubert Humphrey – but Johnson stayed silent about what he called Nixon’s “treason” out of concern that its exposure would not be “good for the country.” [See Robert Parry’s  America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Nixon’s success in 1968 – and the Democratic silence – contributed to his decision several years later to create an extra-legal intelligence unit to spy on and undermine the Democrats heading into Election 1972. Finally, Nixon’s political chicanery undid him when his team of burglars was arrested inside the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate building. The resulting scandal led to his resignation in 1974.

But the Republican response to Watergate wasn’t to mend the party’s ways but rather to learn how to protect against ever again being held accountable. That reality became the political back story of the next three decades, as the Right built up a fearsome media apparatus and deployed well-funded operatives to shield Republicans and to discredit anyone who presented a threat, whether untamed Democrats, nosy reporters or average citizens.

Finally, the Republicans Are Afraid

For anyone who has lived through the past several decades of Republican bullying – from Richard Nixon’s anything-goes politics through Karl Rove’s dreams of a “permanent Republican majority” – it had to be startling to hear House Speaker John Boehner complaining that President Barack Obama’s goal was “to annihilate” the GOP.

During a private luncheon of the Republican Ripon Society on Tuesday, Boehner cited Obama’s progressive agenda as outlined in his Second Inaugural Address as representing an existential threat to the GOP.

“It’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans,” Boehner said. “So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party.” The Ohio Republican also claimed that it was Obama’s goal “to just shove us into the dustbin of history.”

Of course, Boehner may be wildly exaggerating the Republican plight to shock the party out of its funk, raise more money, and get right-wing activists back to the barricades. Still, his comments marked a remarkable reversal of fortune, like the playground bully getting his nose bloodied and running to the teacher in tears.

Even if hyped from political effect, Boehner’s lament also might force some progressives to rethink their negative views about President Obama. If indeed Obama has gotten the upper hand on America’s swaggering Right, then he might not be the political wimp that many on the Left have pegged him to be.

Without doubt, America’s political landscape has shifted from what it was just eight years ago when President George W. Bush was talking about using his political capital to privatize Social Security and Bush’s political guru, Karl Rove, was contemplating an enduring Republican control of all three branches of the U.S. government.

As part of that Zeitgeist of 2005, as Bush entered his second term, right-wing activist Grover Norquist joked about keeping the Democrats around as neutered farm animals. The president of Americans for Tax Reform – most famous for getting Republicans to pledge never to raise taxes – told the Washington Post that congressional Democrats should grow accustomed to having no power and no reproductive ability.

“Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans,” Norquist said. “Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant. But when they’ve been ‘fixed,’ then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful.”

How We Got There

That moment of right-wing arrogance represented a culmination of decades of hardball Republican politics, a take-no-prisoners style that usually encountered only the softest of responses from the Democrats and progressives.

Arguably the pattern was set in fall 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson learned that GOP presidential nominee Nixon was sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks to ensure his victory over Vice President Hubert Humphrey – but Johnson stayed silent about what he called Nixon’s “treason” out of concern that its exposure would not be “good for the country.” [See Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Nixon’s success in 1968 – and the Democratic silence – contributed to his decision several years later to create an extra-legal intelligence unit to spy on and undermine the Democrats heading into Election 1972. Finally, Nixon’s political chicanery undid him when his team of burglars was arrested inside the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate building. The resulting scandal led to his resignation in 1974.

But the Republican response to Watergate wasn’t to mend the party’s ways but rather to learn how to protect against ever again being held accountable. That reality became the political back story of the next three decades, as the Right built up a fearsome media apparatus and deployed well-funded operatives to shield Republicans and to discredit anyone who presented a threat, whether untamed Democrats, nosy reporters or average citizens.

This Right-Wing Machine showed off its value during the 1980s and early 1990s when President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush were caught up in the Iran-Contra national security scandal but succeeded in skating away with only minimal political damage. Instead of Reagan and Bush being held accountable for their crimes, far worse damage was inflicted on the careers of investigators, journalists and witnesses who tried to expose the wrongdoing.

Within this political/media framework, when Democrats did win elections, Republicans immediately demeaned them as illegitimate interlopers. For instance, Bill Clinton’s electoral victory in 1992 was an opportunity for the Right-Wing Machine to demonstrate that it could play offense as well as defense, tying up Clinton’s presidency endlessly in trivial “scandals” and setting the stage for the GOP congressional comeback in 1994.

Over those decades, the Republicans behaved as if national power was their birthright. In Election 2000, they saw nothing wrong with aggressively disrupting the recount in Florida, both with rioters on the ground and partisan justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. It didn’t matter that Vice President Al Gore had won the nation’s popular vote and would have carried Florida if all legal ballots were counted. What mattered was putting a Republican in the White House by whatever means necessary. [For details, see Neck Deep.]

The Republican Apex

After the 9/11 attacks, even as Democrats set aside partisan concerns to support President George W. Bush’s response to the crisis, Bush and the Republicans painted the Democrats as “soft on terror” and unpatriotic. The GOP did whatever it took to expand and solidify power.

In 2004, the Republicans and the Right went so far as to portray Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry as a fake Vietnam War hero. GOP activists even mocked his war wounds by passing out “Purple Heart Band-Aids” at the Republican National Convention.

Then, after Bush rode his post-9/11 reputation as a “war president” to a second term, Republican operatives like Rove and Norquist saw their moment for making their political power permanent, in effect turning the United States into a one-party state with the Democrats kept around for the necessary cosmetics of a “democracy.” The GOP would use its money, its media and its control of the judicial process to make successful electoral challenges unthinkable.

But 2005 instead turned out to be the GOP’s high-water mark, a time of premature celebration, the last moment of sunlight before the arrival of darkening clouds, or in this case, the American people’s realization that the Right’s anti-government extremism – mixed with the neocons’ imperialist wars – was a recipe for disaster.

Bush’s inept handling of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation that it inflicted along the Gulf of Mexico showed the downside of a hollowed-out federal government. And the bloody stalemate in Iraq revealed the dangers of ill-conceived military adventures.

Bush’s tax-cutting and deregulation produced other harmful consequences, including soaring federal deficits, rising income inequality, an eroding middle class and an unstable “bubble” economy that finally burst in 2008. The electorate’s recognition of Bush’s failures led to Democratic victories, including Obama’s election as President.

Yet, despite the extraordinary national crisis that Bush left behind – millions of Americans losing their jobs and their homes as well as two unfinished wars – the Republicans refused to play the role of “loyal opposition.” They pulled out their successful playbook from the early Clinton years and confronted Obama with unrelenting hostility.

Once again, the obstructionist strategy worked at least in a narrow political sense. By mid-2009, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other loud voices from the muscular Right-Wing Machine had whipped up a passionate Tea Party opposition to Obama, including crypto-racist allegations that the President was born in Kenya, despite the evidence of birth records in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, America’s weak and disorganized Left mostly complained that Obama hadn’t delivered on everything that he should have. For his part, Obama squandered valuable time reaching out for a bipartisanship that never came, and the mainstream news media faulted him anyway for failing to achieve that bipartisanship.

Getting Obama

So, the Right surged to electoral victories in 2010. Republicans reclaimed the House and seized control of many state governments. Senior Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, openly declared that their top priority would be to ensure Obama’s failure as President and his defeat in 2012. Part of the Republican strategy to reclaim national power was to disenfranchise blacks and other minorities by creating obstacle courses of legal impediments to voting, such as onerous voter ID laws and reduced hours.

Many top GOP operatives, including Rove, remained confident of success as late as Election Night 2012, expecting Mitt Romney to unseat Barack Obama. However, Democrats blocked many of the voter-suppression schemes and Obama marshaled an unprecedented coalition of African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, women and the young to decisively defeat Romney.

In Congress, Democrats strengthened their control of the Senate and narrowed the Republican majority in the House. That GOP majority was retained only because Republicans had gerrymandered districts after the 2010 elections enabling the party to keep most seats despite losing the popular vote nationally.

During his Second Inaugural Address, Obama also made clear that he had finally forsaken the “inside game” of trying to sweet talk the Republicans into cooperation or negotiating from positions of weakness. Instead, Obama delivered a strong defense of American progressivism. He tied that tradition to the ideals of the Framers who wrote the Constitution with the intent of creating a vibrant Republic, a government of, by and for the people.

Obama’s speech and its warm reception apparently unnerved Speaker Boehner who suddenly saw something akin to an existential threat to the GOP. There were the painful election results, the nation’s shifting demographics, the newly assertive President, and hundreds of thousands of Americans again packing the Mall to celebrate Obama’s victory.

After his Inaugural Address as he stepped back into the U.S. Capitol, President Obama paused, turned around and looked back at the throngs of people waving American flags as far as the eye could see. He said wistfully, “I’m not going to see this again.”

From his seat in the Inaugural reviewing stands, Speaker Boehner saw the same impressive scene, and he may have grasped its implicit message. The large and diverse crowd personified the Obama coalition — and the mortal threat that it represents to traditional American politics, always dominated by white men of means.

Of course, the Republicans still have the Right-Wing Machine churning out propaganda to rally the party’s angry white-male base. Plus, the GOP is coming up with more new plans for minimizing the votes of black and brown people and maximizing the political clout of whites, such as a scheme in several states to apportion presidential electors based on the Republicans’ gerrymandered congressional districts.

But Boehner seems to sense that something fundamental has changed. Perhaps he was playacting a bit when he warned fellow Republicans that Obama hoped to “annihilate” the Republican Party. But – overdramatized or not – Boehner’s alarm suggests that finally it is the Republicans who are afraid.

Grand Theft Election: How Republicans Plan to Steal the White House

If a Republican plan to rig the Electoral College had been in effect in 2012, it is reasonably likely that Mitt Romney would be President.

January 25, 2013  |  

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President Barack Obama won a commanding victory in this November’s elections, defeating Republican candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by nearly 4 percentage points in the popular vote. In doing so, President Obama became the first president to twice win more than 51 percent of the popular vote since President Dwight D. Eisenhower did so in 1956.

If a Republican plan to rig the Electoral College had been in effect in 2012, however, it is reasonably likely that President Romney would be the one meeting with his new cabinet officials in the Oval Office. Under current law, most states allocate all of their electoral votes to the winner of the state as a whole. This Republican Plan to rig future elections, however, would change this in several blue states where Democrats are likely to carry the state’s full slate of electors. Texas, South Carolina, and other safe red states would therefore continue to deliver every single one of their electoral votes to the Republican candidate, while blue states such as Pennsylvania or Michigan would have to give away half or more of theirs to the Republican ticket. The result is a giant thumb on the scale for Republicans, enabling them to take the White House even when the electorate strongly prefers the Democratic candidate.

How the Republican election-rigging plan works

This Republican Plan would reallocate electoral votes so that a maximum of two electoral votes would go to the overall winner of several key blue states. The lion’s share of the state’s electors would then be allocated one by one to the presidential candidate who won each individual congressional district. (see Figure 1) Thus, in a blue state such as Michigan—which President Obama won by nearly 10 points in 2012—Gov. Romney would have received 9 of the state’s 16 electoral votes because he received more votes than the president did in nine of the state’s congressional districts. In other words, the Republican candidate would receive more than half of the state’s electoral votes despite being overwhelmingly defeated in the state as a whole.

Cashing in on gerrymandering

The Republican Plan does not just apply one set of rules in red states and another set of rules in blue states—it also takes advantage of profoundly gerrymandered congressional maps in order to stack the deck even more for Republican presidential candidates. In 2012 Democratic House candidates received nearly 1.4 million more votes than their Republican counterparts. Yet Republican candidates currently hold a 33-seat majority in the House, due in large part to the fact that Republican state legislatures controlled the redistricting process in several key states. Indeed, Republicans were so successful in their efforts to lock in their control of the House of Representatives through gerrymandering that Democratic House candidates would have needed to win the national popular vote by more than 7 percentage points in order to receive the barest majority in the House. Republicans aren’t particularly shy about touting the success of their gerrymanders either: The Republican State Leadership Committee released an extensive memo boasting about how they used gerrymanders to lock down GOP majorities in the House.

The impact of the current congressional maps is most profound in six key states. As explained above, President Obama did win Michigan by nearly 10 points, but Democratic candidates won only 5 of the state’s 14 congressional seats. Likewise, President Obama won Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin—in some cases by comfortable margins—but Republicans dominate the congressional delegations from these states.

Notably, all six of these states are currently controlled by Republican governors and legislatures, meaning that all six of them could implement the Republican election-rigging plan before the 2016 election.

Like Houdini, Republicans Make The Debt Ceiling Disappear

Now you see it---now you don't. Poof! I didn't know Republicans have been studying the art of magic and illusion.

Steve Benen:

Last week, House Republicans caved on the debt-ceiling fight, at least in the short term, announcing they would approve a "three-month temporary debt-limit increase." Over the holiday weekend, the GOP plan apparently got a little touch-up.

Forget about raising the federal debt limit. House Republicans are proposing to ignore it altogether -- at least until May 18.The House plans to vote Wednesday on a measure that would leave the $16.4 trillion debt limit intact but suspend it from the time the bill passes until mid-May. The declaration that the debt ceiling "shall not apply" means that the government could continue borrowing to cover its obligations to creditors until May 18.This approach -- novel in modern times -- would let Republicans avoid a potentially disastrous fight over the debt limit without actually voting to let the Treasury borrow more money.

This is rather unexpected. Just a few days ago, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced plans for a three-month increase. Now, it's four months, and it's a suspension, not an increase.

What does that mean, exactly? Lawmakers are effectively declaring, "The debt ceiling won't exist until mid-May." In other words, Congress authorizes federal spending and the administration acts accordingly, but instead of needing congressional approval to borrow the difference, the White House will be able to just borrow as necessary -- without authorization -- for nearly four months without regard for legal limits.

Right-wing lawmakers will probably balk -- they weren't going to endorse the original plan, either -- but the Club for Growth said Tuesday that it will not oppose the temporary suspension of the borrowing limit. After all, Republicans aren't technically raising the debt ceiling; they're just suspending it. Of course, this raises a related question: can't Congress just make this permanent? Shouldn't lawmakers do exactly that?

Yes they should, and please, let's drop the idea that Republicans care about the deficit. They are using the debt ceiling to push an agenda which could backfire on the country and severely f*&k us all. If they can suspend it or make it disappear any time they want, then what is this whole circle jerk about in the first place? I'd much prefer to watch Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh in Houdini than this freak show.

UPDATE: Debt Ceiling fantasy passed

The House just passed the GOP’s plan for a temporary debt limit extension, 285-144. The threat of default has been averted — in exchange for no concessions whatsoever by Dems. This confirms what some of us knew from the start: Republicans were never — ever — going to allow default. Those who played along with the fantasy that the threat of default gave Republicans leverage got snookered. They got taken.

Today’s vote, in effect, removes the threat of default from the conversation permanently, which is good news for the country. There is very little chance that the coming battle won’t be resolved before the next debt limit deadline of May 18th. In any case, if Republicans try to tie any more conditions to the next debt limit hike, Dems will simply laugh in their faces, since they confirmed today that they are not willing to allow default, no matter what. So now the GOP will try to use the expiring sequester and the threat of a government shutdown to extract the spending cuts it says it wants.

Village Idiots Pronounce Republicans Innocent, Obama ‘The Divider’

[h/t Heather at VideoCafe] Last Monday, something remarkable happened. PBS aired their newest Frontline segment on the first four years of Obama's presidency. In the opening segment, Frank Luntz crowed proudly about how the strategy session he orga...

Sunday Beltway Villagers Cry: Obama Is Mean To Republicans

Face The Nation had an interesting "power panel round table" where bipartisanship ruled the day and all the parties involved could agree on one thing for sure: President Obama is being a real meanie to Republicans. Bob Woodward, Dee Dee Myers, Peggy...

House Republicans Caving On Debt Ceiling?

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I'm still a little skeptical, but whether it's three months, or three years, a House Republican cave on the debt ceiling bodes well for our economy and dealings with Congress, wingnuts or no wingnuts.

According to The Hill, House Republicans are going to propose a three-month raise to the debt ceiling with some contingencies attached:

House Republican leaders on Friday announced a plan to condition a three-month increase in the debt limit on the Senate committing to pass a budget by the April 15 statutory deadline.

“Before there is any long-term debt limit increase, a budget should be passed that cuts spending,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the Republican conference in remarks to close the party’s three-day retreat in Williamsburg. “The Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to pass a budget for four years. That is a shameful run that needs to end, this year.”

The House will also seek to prevent members of Congress from being paid if the two chambers do not pass a budget resolution.“We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem,” Boehner said. “The principle is simple: no budget, no pay.”

The "no budget, no pay" piece of their proposal appears to be unconstitutional, according to ThinkProgress, but that's a small thing compared to the fact that it looks as though they're prepared to release the hostage, and once they do that, there's no turning back.

Steve Benen points out that releasing the debt ceiling hostage simply exchanges one for another:

That said, it also appears the congressional GOP hopes to trade one hostage for another.

Even if Republicans now seem to realize they can't follow through on their debt-ceiling threats -- they really should have thought this through beforehand -- GOP policymakers still appear committed to aggressive confrontations on automatic sequestration cuts and funding levels for the government itself.

To be sure, these threats carry a punch. The sequester includes deep cuts that neither side wants and a fight over spending levels may very well lead to a government shutdown, but neither pose the catastrophic dangers associated with a genuine debt-ceiling crisis -- and even House Republicans seem aware of this, which is why they have no intention of shooting this hostage.

There's apparently growing GOP support for a clean, short-term extension of the debt ceiling -- which, as we discussed yesterday, doesn't seem to make any sense at all -- which would presumably set the stage for additional talks. This will play out soon enough, but at a certain level its impact is limited. Once everyone in Washington -- Democrats and Republicans, the White House and Congress -- realizes that GOP leaders aren't prepared to allow a default on our obligations, the game is effectively over.

Greg Sargent:

Here’s why this matters: This increases the debt ceiling to authorize borrowing to pay the country’s bills well into April. That punts the debt limit deadline until after the deadline for funding for the government to run out, which is on March 27th. In other words, Republicans will now use the threat of a government shutdown along with the coming expiration of the sequester to extract the spending cuts it wants. Presuming this all gets resolved by then, or soon after, it means the threat of default is no longer a factor. This will all but certainly get resolved in advance of this three month deadline, and a long term debt limit hike will get attached to that agreement.

It's that last bit that has me skeptical, though Krauthammer was pretty specific in his column about what the GOP will not get while this President is in office and while the Senate majority is a Democratic one. In that column, he's blunt:

The party establishment is coming around to the view that if you try to govern from one house — e.g., force spending cuts with cliffhanging brinkmanship — you lose. You not only don’t get the cuts. You get the blame for rattled markets and economic uncertainty. You get humiliated by having to cave in the end. And you get opinion polls ranking you below head lice and colonoscopies in popularity.

There is history here. The Gingrich Revolution ran aground when it tried to govern from Congress, losing badly to President Clinton over government shutdowns. Nor did the modern insurgents do any better in the 2011 debt-ceiling and 2012 fiscal-cliff showdowns with Obama.

Obama’s postelection arrogance and intransigence can put you in a fighting mood. I sympathize. But I’m tending toward the realist view: Don’t force the issue when you don’t have the power.

Releasing the hostage is good, but it isn't the end of the line by any means. It does, however, allow some breathing room to actually work through some kind of deal that ends the standoff over budget cuts and if Krauthammer's words carry any weight, it seems that he's signaling to Republicans that they take on more modest challenges and win smaller battles rather than trying to take on unwinnable large battles.

Jonathan Chait argues that a short-term debt ceiling increase seems somewhat pointless, and has similar concerns to mine:

Will it work? You have to ask yourself what the point is. If Republicans can’t threaten to shoot the hostage, what do they gain by holding new debt ceiling votes every few months? It’s either leverage or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then a new vote every few months won’t do anything for the GOP. Indeed, it will annoy Republicans, who will be forced to take more and more “he voted to increase the debt ceiling fourteen times!” votes.

Still. I don't trust Republicans enough to call this a win. At best, it's a stabilizing move, assuming it can pass the House without some Democrats tossing in their votes too. Or maybe they have come to the conclusion that holding the debt ceiling hostage is simply a losing strategy that would undo any hope of getting anything passed that is on their agenda, in which case they'd be better off doing one clean, long-term raise of the ceiling and moving on to the budget battles.

Stay tuned. They still have to vote on it.

Counterpoint: After writing this, I've seen more people weigh in. Nancy Pelosi will not accept a debt ceiling bill with contingencies, according to Greg Sargent. Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA weighs in with a warning that this is just an Eric Cantor bait and switch to force the Senate to pass the House budget without any changes.

Eric Cantor’s offer is totally bogus. Rep. Cantor was proposing that as long as the Senate will agree with the House on budget, the House will raise the debt ceiling for 90 days. Cantor expects the Senate to trade three months of debt ceiling for one year of spending cuts. Look carefully at what Cantor proposed. He didn’t propose that the Senate has to pass a budget. He said that the House and Senate both have to pass a budget. Rep. Cantor was referring to a budget that both the House and Senate agree to, not just a Senate budget.

It's unclear right now whether the actual bill would be a clean raise for three months, or one with contingencies attached. If the latter, then yes, it's simply a bait-and-switch.

Matalin: President Needs to be Less ‘Self-Reverential’ to Make Progress With Republicans

What is it with these Republicans who just can't stop themselves from coming just a hair shy of calling the President of the United States "uppity?" Last week, Bill-O was calling him "cocky" during his Talking Points Memo segment on Fox. Now we've got Lady McCheney Mary Matalin on Mrs. Greenspan's show calling him too "self-reverential" and "self-righteous" and that he wants Republicans to go along with him and pretend they care about doing their jobs and legislating, he'd better start acting nicer to them.

Andrea Mitchell reminded her that he didn't exactly have much good will from the other side, what with them immediately plotting on how to obstruct everything he tried to do from the day he got elected --during that now-famous meeting with Frank Luntz and Newt Gingrich. We also had Mitch McConnell out there just stating openly that his "single most important" goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Matalin feigned ignorance and pretended she had no idea what Mitchell was talking about. She said the GOP leadership didn't attend meetings and the last time she checked, neither Luntz nor Gingrich were in office at the time of that meeting.

Thankfully, Mitchell did remind her that a good deal of the leadership was there, but that didn't stop her from going right back after President Obama and complaining that he wasn't talking nicely enough to those poor sensitive Republicans.

Here's a little reminder of just what went on during that meeting from James Wolcott: The Conspiracy to Commit Legislative Constipation:

In a scene reminiscent of the summit meeting of mob bosses in The Godfather, Republican House leaders were summoned by evil marshmallow and message-crafter Frank Luntz to hash out a strategy to cope with the defeat of their party in 2008 and the election of the newly inaugurated President Obama, according to Robert Draper's just published book Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.

From a report on Draper's revelation by Ewen MacAskill in the Guardian UK (the bolding is mine):

During a lengthy discussion, the senior GOP members worked out a plan to repeatedly block Obama over the coming four years to try to ensure he would not be re-elected.

In his book, Draper opens with the heady atmosphere in Washington on the days running up to the inauguration and the day itself, which attracted 1.8 million to the mall to witness Obama being sworn in as America's first black president.

Those numbers contributed to a growing sense of unease among Republicans as much the defeat in the White House race the previous November. The 15 Republicans were in a sombre mood as they gathered at the Caucus Room in Washington, an upscale restaurant where a New York strip steak costs $51.

Attending the dinner were House members Eric Cantor, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra, Dan Lungren, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan and Pete Sessions. From the Senate were Tom Coburn, Bob Corker, Jim DeMint, John Ensign and Jon Kyl. Others present were former House Speaker and future – and failed – presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and the Republican strategist Frank Luntz, who organised the dinner and sent out the invitations.

The dinner table was set in a square at Luntz's request so everyone could see one another and talk freely. The session lasted four hours and by the end the sombre mood had lifted: they had conceived a plan. They would take back the House in November 2010, which they did, and use it as a spear to mortally wound Obama in 2011 and take back the Senate and White House in 2012, Draper writes.

"If you act like you're the minority, you're going to stay in the minority," said Keven McCarthy, quoted by Draper. "We've gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign."

The Republicans have done that, bringing Washington to a near standstill several times during Obama's first term over debt and other issues.

Their locked-shut buttocks will unclench of course should Mitt Romney be elected, at which point they'll be passing legislation like street hawkers handing out strip-club flyers. Every bill will be named after Reagan or some other sentimental favorite.

I don't know about anyone else, but I've about had it up to here with these Republicans and their supposed hurt feelings as an excuse for obstruction when they've disrespected President Obama and called him every name in the book for years. Matalin's pearl clutching is growing tiresome --to put it mildly.

Republicans Considering “Temporary” Debt-Ceiling Increase

In what is sure to be a complete non-starter with the Obama administration, WSJ reports that Paul Ryan said that "Republicans are discussing whether to support a short-term increase in the nation's borrowing authority, possibly linking the debt ceilin...

Republicans set to let US default

Republicans set to let US default

Republicans set to let US default

To force the Obama administration to cut spending, some House Republicans have advocated allowing the US to fall into default or shut down the government. By running out of money, the US would be unable to pay its bills as early as mid-February.

Some Republicans on Monday expressed their intentions to send the country into default if significant spending isn’t cut soon. The government could run out of cash as early as February 15 – but partisanship is preventing the parties from agreeing on a deficit-reduction plan to keep the US economy going.

“I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers told Politico. “We always talk about whether or not we’re going to kick the can down the road. I think the mood is that we’ve come to the end of the road.”

Gathering for private meetings, GOP leaders agreed that they consider it riskier to add to the US debt than undergo a default. Republican leadership officials said that more than half of their members are ready to let the country run out of money and shut down the government to have their voices heard.

“The President could absolutely never have to deal with the debt limit again. It will just require him to get serious about spending cuts,” Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in a tweet.

President Obama addressed the issue during a news conference Monday, outlining the bills that would be left unpaid if the country were to fall into default.

“If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans benefits will be delayed,” Obama said. “We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners. Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialists who track down loose nuclear materials wouldn’t get their paychecks.”

Between Feb. 15 and March 15, the government will receive $277 billion in revenue and face  $452 billion in bills that it would not be able to pay unless it increases the debt ceiling and/or cuts spending. Those who rely on government programs, such as Social Security recipients, veterans, and the poor, would be cut off from receiving aid and government employees would not be able to work. Interest rates would rise, the nation’s credit rating could be downgraded, and other countries would be less likely to trust the US financially.

Obama called the GOP stance on raising the debt ceiling “irresponsible” and “absurd” and pledged not to let Republican threats destroy the US economy and create “a self-inflicted wound”.

“They will not collect ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy,” he said during his last news conference of his first term in office. “The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip. And they better decide quickly because time is running short.”

President Obama to Republicans: We Are Not A Deadbeat Nation

I said a few weeks ago that if President Obama refused to use the platinum coin or the 14th Amendment to stop the debt ceilling fight, it's because he wants his Grand Bargain deal with the Republicans, and having a showdown is the best way to make it happen. I saw nothing during today's press conference to change my opinion that the president is determined to make the Republicans sit down and cut a deal that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Read the transcript here:

President Barack Obama ratcheted up pressure on congressional Republicans to authorize an increase in the nation’s debt limit, warning of potentially catastrophic results for many Americans and the overall economy if the U.S. were to default on its obligations.

“The issue here is whether or not America pays its bills,” Obama said at a press conference on Monday, the last of his first term in office. “We are not a deadbeat nation.”

Anticipating a politically bruising fight this spring with the GOP – members of which in Congress have increasingly and openly discussed the prospect of refusing to raise the debt ceiling or allowing a government shutdown – Obama urged lawmakers to avoid using the vote over the debt limit as a point of leverage.

And the president sought to frame the risks of default in stark terms. He warned markets would go “haywire” if Congress would not act; Obama said that interest rates would rise, and checks to Social Security beneficiaries and military veterans would cease.

But as some Democrats urge the administration to consider options to sidestep Congress and assert the authority to unilaterally authorize more borrowing, Obama all but ruled out these sorts of “Plan B” options.

Peggy Noonan Thinks the Time is Ripe For Republicans to be Democrats!

(h/t Heather for the vid, Andrew for the tip) I confess that I almost wish I would be invited to sit on a panel for "This Week" now. Whatever they are serving in the green room is some pretty strong stuff, based on how loopy Peggy Noonan is in this ...

More Than Half Of Republicans Prepared To Let US Default

Yesterday, Citigroup floated the idea that a temporary government shutdown once the full array of debt ceiling extension measures expires some time in mid/late February, is possible, which would also mean the first technical default of the US depending on the prioritization of US debt payments. Now, Politico reports that this idea is rapidly gaining support within the GOP and that "more than half of GOP members are prepare to allow default unless Obama agress to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes." It gets better... or worse depending how many ES contracts on is long: "Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” said a top GOP leadership adviser. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes — so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”" Of course, at this point not even a US government bankruptcy may send the ES more than one or two ticks lower. After all, there is no risk of anything happening anywhere, any time.

More from Politico:

House Republicans are seriously entertaining dramatic steps, including default or shutting down the government, to force President Barack Obama to finally cut spending by the end of March.

The idea of allowing the country to default by refusing to increase the debt limit is getting more widespread and serious traction among House Republicans than people realize, though GOP leaders think shutting down the government is the much more likely outcome of the spending fights this winter.

"I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state told us. “We always talk about whether or not we’re going to kick the can down the road. I think the mood is that we’ve come to the end of the road.”

The country would eventually default if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit, which the Treasury estimates will hit in late February or early March. The government would shut down if House Republicans instead were to refuse to extend the law funding current government operations on March 27.

Boehner assumes he can ultimately talk members out of default, but he is so wounded and weakened from last month’s tax-hike battle that the speaker might very well be wrong. Obama assumes Republicans would never be so foolish as to put the economy at risk to win a spending fight. Conservatives say he’s definitely wrong on that score. They say he’s the foolish and reckless one for piling up $6 trillion in debt on his watch.

The coming spending fights make the Christmastime tax increase battle seem like child’s play. While everyone knew the tax drama would end with the rich paying more taxes, no one can telegraph how the coming spending fights will unfold. And the economic stakes are more dire.

“For too long, the pitch was, we’ll deal with it next time,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a conservative from Utah. He said GOP lawmakers are prepared to shut things down or even default if Obama doesn’t bend on spending. “No one wants to default, but we are not going to continue to give the president a limitless credit card.”

Starting Monday, Boehner will huddle with his leadership team to discuss his preliminary thinking on a spending strategy. A source who attended meetings to prepare for those private talks said GOP leaders are authentically at a loss on how to control members who don’t respond to the normal incentives of wanting to help party leaders or of avoiding situations — like default — that could be public relations nightmares.

And while historically a US default would send the USD soaring on a flight to safety, this time around nobody knows what will happen, as the algos out there are, for some amusing reason, pushing more capital into the EUR. And with the weak USD to strong ES correlation, it just may be that a US default would send the S&P 500 limit up.

Perfectly rational "market."

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Republicans Won’t Deal On Budget Because There’s No Political Gain In It

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A couple of articles out this week lay out the reasons for Republicans' whinging about not dealing with the White House anymore on anything, never, no how.

First, there's Jonathan Chait's analysis of the current stonewalling strategy; namely, not one penny more of revenue from anywhere no matter what, but plenty of cut, cut, cut. And absolutely no deal. Here's the paragraph that caught my eye, though:

So, step one: Block any compromise to reduce the deficit. Step two: Blame Obama for failing to reduce the deficit. I actually think this plan can work.

This may sound like a cynical strategy. And it is. But it’s not a purely cynical strategy. It reflects an important intellectual development on the right. Capretta is advocating not just the classic no-taxes-ever approach that has defined the party for years, but also its newer (or newly fervent) belief in privatizing health-care services.

Aha, and that follows what I'm seeing on a state level.

Rick Scott's little song and dance was the first salvo. Scott, as you'll recall, decided he would turn down the Medicaid expansion dollars from the federal government because he's crazy. But after hospitals lobbied him hard, he went to Kathleen Sibelius looking for a deal that went like this: Let me privatize all Medicaid services and I'll take your Medicaid dollars.

What a guy. And that leads me to this article in the New York Times on Wednesday, addressing the differences in care between for-profit providers and not-for-profit providers.

Writing about his colleagues’ research in his 1988 book “The Nonprofit Economy,” the economist Burton Weisbrod provided a straightforward explanation: “differences in the pursuit of profit.” Sedatives are cheap, Mr. Weisbrod noted. “Less expensive than, say, giving special attention to more active patients who need to be kept busy.”

This behavior was hardly surprising. Hospitals run for profit are also less likely than nonprofit and government-run institutions to offer services like home health care and psychiatric emergency care, which are not as profitable as open-heart surgery.

A shareholder might even applaud the creativity with which profit-seeking institutions go about seeking profit. But the consequences of this pursuit might not be so great for other stakeholders in the system — patients, for instance. One study found that patients’ mortality rates spiked when nonprofit hospitals switched to become profit-making, and their staff levels declined.

These profit-maximizing tactics point to a troubling conflict of interest that goes beyond the private delivery of health care. They raise a broader, more important question: How much should we rely on the private sector to satisfy broad social needs?From health to pensions to education, the United States relies on private enterprise more than pretty much every other advanced, industrial nation to provide essential social services. The government pays Medicare Advantage plans to deliver health care to aging Americans. It provides a tax break to encourage employers to cover workers under 65.

It's a little amazing to think this even has to be said, but apparently it does. If you're chasing a bottom line, it's likely that services will suffer while profits are padded, and nowhere is that more evident than health care. A simple comparison of the administrative costs between Medicare and private insurance plans proves that. Medicare averages around 7 percent annually, while private insurers "struggle" to keep theirs below 20 percent.

So if I'm right, Republicans have decided that they will not participate in any budget negotiation that actually reduces the deficit because while they happen to agree that health costs will be the primary driver of future deficits, their answer is simply to privatize those costs, continue to drive up the deficit while loading up the pockets of their corporate for-profit cronies.

If this is, in fact, their strategy then we can expect bandaid solutions to deadlines. When this continuing resolution runs out Republicans will submit yet another budget privatizing Medicare, signed with a Paul Ryan flourish. The Senate will, of course, reject anything that looks like that, and the House will not approve any Senate amendments changing that, which means they'll just go on approving the continuing resolution for short periods of time.

Siege mentality with a privatized chaser. The only answer to this is to get ahead of the message now, to keep hammering home how disgusting and odious privatizing Medicare and giving Granny a voucher would be, and to make Republicans own it. They can't be allowed to hand this off to Democrats, which means pushing Democrats to quit thinking there is some bipartisan answer to this. There isn't.

Then in 2014, boot their asses out of office. Just like that.

Republicans Are Split Over How to Catch up to the 21st Century (But Both...

"Pirate time" and "gutted" welfare: the conservative schism in two columns.

January 11, 2013  |  

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As President Obama gears up for a reinauguration that, right up to Election Day, conservatives truly believed would never happen, the right is trying to figure out what went wrong and what can be done to set things right. A schism has emerged between those who think Republicans and conservatives simply need to tweak their messaging (a majority of Republicans  believe this) versus those who think the party needs to update its policies (a majority of all Americans agree on this point). Both these factions get find their voice in separate columns from prominent conservatives today.

Jim DeMint, fresh off his resignation from the Senate to take over the Heritage Foundation, plants his flag firmly in the "messaging" camp in a Washington Post  op-ed. Meanwhile, Peggy Noonan writes in the  Wall Street Journal that Republicans in Congress should raid the Democratic policy chest like seafaring privateers: "Really: It's pirate time."

Both columns, though, demonstrate that the lessons of 2012 have been ill-learned, and the intractability of the problems facing conservatives.

Let's start with DeMint and his missive in support of message tweaks. Here's what DeMint saw in 2012:

Unfortunately, welfare reform and missile defense have something in common beyond Heritage's intellectual paternity. They both have been gutted by President Obama. Always faint-hearted about missile defense, the president in his first year dismantled our programs in Poland and the Czech Republic. He disabled welfare reform last year, when he took away the work requirements that were at the heart of that law's success.

How could the president get away with hobbling two successful programs with barely a peep from the media or backlash from the millions of Americans whose lives are made better and more secure by these initiatives? That's a question and a challenge I take very personally.

DeMint's solution is to do "research" to make sure going forward conservative messaging on topics like missile defense and welfare is more effective. Of course, anyone who paid even casual attention to the 2012 race knows that Mitt Romney's attacked Obama relentlessly-- and falsely -- for "gutting welfare reform," and those attacks were covered extensively by the political press. The problem with the attack (which  originated with Heritage) was that it was over-the-top and wrong, and undermined by the fact that Republican governors were embracing the welfare policies Romney was attacking.

And really, the welfare attack was effective insomuch as it achieved its purpose: stoking  racial resentmentamong white, blue-collar voters against the president. The problem is that those voters don't make up quite the share of the electorate that they used to. That speaks to a deeper problem within conservative politics that can't be patched over with a little PR.

Meanwhile, at the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan is  pushing for much more sweeping changes within Republican politics and writing about pirates:

Now is the time to fight and be fearless, to be surprising, to break out of lockstep, to be the one thing Republicans aren't supposed to be, and that is interesting.

Now's the time to put a dagger 'tween their teeth, wave a sword, grab a rope and swing aboard the enemy's galleon. Take the president's issues, steal them--they never belonged to him, they're yours!

In political terms this means: Reorient yourselves. Declare for Main Street over Wall Street, stand for the little guy against the big interests. And move. Don't wait for the bill, declare the sentiments of your corner..

Really, it's pirate time.

One can glean from Noonan's argument that she's either an incurable optimist with a soft-spot for the dramatic, or she hasn't been paying attention. One of the pirate-time reforms she encourages the GOP to embrace is closing the  carried interest loophole, a sneaky bit of tax code that allows investment bankers to tax their wage income at the lower capital-gains rate. It disproportionately favors the wealthy, and Noonan spies an opportunity to seize the populist mantle: "If congressional Republicans care about their party they'll want it to get credit for fairness, as opposed to the usual blame for being lackeys of the rich."

7 Theories Why Obama Keeps Getting Burned (Or Doesn’t!) Negotiating with Republicans

Obama's presidency still tends to divide progressives.

January 9, 2013  |  

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Barack Obama has negotiated deals with the Republicans four times since they won the House in the 2010 midterms. In late 2010, he extended the Bush tax cuts in exchange for extended unemployment benefits and aid to cash-strapped states; in early 2011 they haggled over a threatened government shut-down; that summer we had the first round of debt ceiling shenanigans and this month over the phony “fiscal cliff” that came out of those earlier negotitations. We'll have another round – or rounds -- in the next few months as the budget resolution expires, the debt limit comes up again and the automatic budget cuts known as a sequester looms.

For the most part, progressives have not been terribly happy with the results of these negotiations. Few doubt the president's political acumen, but the conventional wisdom has become that while he can win elections, he tends to get rolled by the GOP. And there are a number of theories for why that is -- and there are also people who argue that it's simply not true.

We rounded up some of the possibilities progressive analysts have offered to explain this dynamic.

1. Obama Hasn't Been Rolled Because He's Really a Closet Republican

According to this line of thinking, Obama has only been thwarted in the sense that he hasn't been able to realize his deeply held ambition of gutting the social safety net. FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher is one of the proponents of this theory, pleading last December for progressives to "please stop pretending Obama is 'capitulating' on Social Security.”

Everywhere you look, the media narrative is that President Obama is “capitulating” to Republicans by agreeing to cuts in Social Security benefits.

And I have to ask, where is this collective political amnesia coming from?

Obama has made a deliberate and concerted effort to cut Social Security benefits since the time he took office.

Hamsher offers into evidence a paper laying out possible cuts to “entitlements” that was co-authored by former OMB director Peter Orszag when he was at the Brookings Institution, Obama's creation of the Simpson-Bowles commission, and statements like this one, from a report in the Washington Post:

Obama said that he has made clear to his advisers that some of the difficult choices–particularly in regards to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare – should be made on his watch. “We’ve kicked this can down the road and now we are at the end of the road,” he said.

Hamsher concludes:

But it’s clear that he did not arrive at the decision to “reform” Social Security and cut benefits because he is a poor negotiator, or because of Republican arm twisting. It defies all logic and reason to look at his actions over the years and think that the President is now “capitulating” on Social Security.

2. Say What You Like About the Tenets of National Socialism, Dude, At Least It's an Ethos

Another theory is that the White House recognizes that House Republicans aren't bound by ordinary usual political constraints. Many lawmakers in the Republican party's tea party wing come from safe districts and worry more about a primary from their right than what the polls say Americans want to see happen.

Jonathan Chait likens it to the nihilists in the Coen brothers' classic film, The Big Lebowski. After the latest deal was struck, Chait wrote: “The big reveal from the negotiations is that, as the clock ticked down, the administration feared the consequences of a stalemate and feared the power of nihilistic House Republicans.”

Belfast police fire plastic bullets as loyalists clash with republicans (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Loyalist protesters gather at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)

(4.7Mb) embed video

Police used plastic bullets and water cannon to disperse crowds of rioters in Belfast as they attacked officers with bricks and petrol bombs. The city council said no protest would make them overturn recent limitations on displaying the British flag.

­According to varying estimates, between 400 and 1,000 loyalists gathered in front of the city hall on Monday for a protest, marking the fifth consecutive night of demonstrations.

The peaceful gathering turned violent as a group of 250 was leaving the rally and clashed with a group of republicans.

Police tried to keep the two conflicting parties apart by using water cannons and firing plastic bullets. Five plastic bullets were discharged due to the "level of violence" to which police were subjected, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.

Officers were attacked with stones, petrol bombs fireworks, paint bombs and other missiles, while some protesters were armed with hatchets and hammers. Rioters erected a barricade on a street and set it on fire.

Protesters were also damaging cars and two cases of attempted carjacking were reported.

Four protesters, two men and two women, were detained for public order offences on Monday, bringing the total to some 100 arrested since the beginning of the month-long conflict. This includes a man who was arrested last week on suspicion of attempted murder.

Loyalist protestors confront riot police at Belfast City Hall, Belfast January 7, 2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)
Loyalist protestors confront riot police at Belfast City Hall, Belfast January 7, 2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

According to police, children as young as 10 and 11 were taking part in the rioting. Northern Ireland`s commissioner for children and young people, Patricia Lewsley Mooney, expressed her deepest concerns on the situation explaining that criminal convictions given to children could affect them for the rest of their lives.

Northern Ireland's chief police officer Matt Baggott accused pro-British militant groups of inciting violence and instigating the riots.

The so-called flag riots began in December after the city's council limited the number of days the British flag is to be flown over the City Hall of the Northern Irish capital. The vote stipulated that the flag, also called the Union Jack, is to fly on 17 designated days only, rather than year-round.

The decision inflamed loyalists, who took to the streets of Belfast in large numbers to protest against the change. The demonstrations soon turned violent with loyalists and republicans attacking each other and police. 62 police have been injured in the clashes since the protests began.

Burning debris blocks the Newtownards Road in east Belfast January 7,2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)
Burning debris blocks the Newtownards Road in east Belfast January 7,2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

Monday also saw the city council meeting for the first time since the controversial vote took place last month. The city officials spent about an hour discussing the situation around the newly-adopted flag regulations.

Jim McVeigh from Sinn Fein, a left wing republican party, said he and his associates would not be intimidated by the threats and will not change their decision adding that “protests are pointless.”

Wednesday, the Duchess of Cambridge's birthday, is going to be the first of the designated flag days, when the British flag will be legitimately flown over the building.

Meanwhile, some say the flag-riots are a vivid indication of growing tensions between Catholic republicans, who seek reunion with Ireland, and Protestant loyalists, who want to remain under British control.

The current rioting is the worst Belfast has seen since the Belfast “Good Friday” Agreement, signed in 1998, ended 30 year conflict between the two sides.

 Debris burns on the street on the lower Newtownards road after Loyalist protesters gathered at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)
Debris burns on the street on the lower Newtownards road after Loyalist protesters gathered at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)

Police dressed in riot gear protect the City Hall as Loyalist protesters gather at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)
Police dressed in riot gear protect the City Hall as Loyalist protesters gather at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)

A loyalist protestor waves a Union Flag at Belfast City Hall, Belfast January 7, 2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)
A loyalist protestor waves a Union Flag at Belfast City Hall, Belfast January 7, 2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

Burning debris is seen on the lower Newtownards road as police landrovers and a watercanon confront Loyalist protesters gather at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)
Burning debris is seen on the lower Newtownards road as police landrovers and a watercanon confront Loyalist protesters gather at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)

Another Republican Scandal: Did Boehner Bribe Republicans To Keep Him As Speaker?

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Republicans’ Offshore Drilling Plan Would Expand Dysfunctional System

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Is Health Care A Commodity Or Right?

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Desperate GOP Resorts to "Blatant Bribery" in Bid to Save Floundering Trumpcare Bill

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Tom Price Is Enhancing the Health of the American People By Wasting $60,000 On...

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The Right Wing Has a Vast, Secret Plot to Destroy Unions for Good. Here's...

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"Pivotal Moment in American History": Sen. Sanders Unveils Medicare for All Bill

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‘Unlimited war’ and transgender troops: Amendments seek limits to military spending bill

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'Most Brazen Corporate Wrongdoer Maneuvers in Memory': Equifax Forces Potential Victims to Give Up...

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Review from Amazon.com Excellent! Revealing look at the true evil genius of the man who is responsible for the deaths (not to mention the rape...

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Pro-worker, anti-racist organization, Redneck Revolt. The Left Calls Out The Left

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As an antiwar activist, I feel a responsibility to denounce the conduct of many of my colleagues with whom I generally share common ideologies. Their actions,...

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Internal Documents Reveal Right-Wing Plan to Strike Public Unions With 'Mortal Blow'

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Arizona ban on Mexican-American studies ruled unconstitutional – judge

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New Campaign Demands 'Not One Penny' More In Tax Cuts for Rich

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Trump may avoid impeachment if he stops Mussolini act – man who predicted 9...

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