Thursday, June 18, 2015

The GOP should be careful what they wish for

Like many, I almost wish that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of the GOP plaintiffs in King v. Burwell so that they will soundly lose the Senate and the Presidency in 2016. But, no, I do not really wish that because 8.5 million would suffer just to teach the GOP a lesson.
 
Once the conservative legal strategy of constantly “repealing” Obamacare in the House of Representatives gave rise to King v. Burwell, Republicans in Congress probably had no choice but to become cheerleaders for, or active participants in, the ensuing litigation. Top Republicans filed legal briefs urging the Supreme Court to side with the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, but are now beginning to realize the possible political implications of such a ruling. This Obamacare challenge – and the decision from the Supreme Court – has exposed the terrible predicament the entire strategy created for the GOP.

The case of King v. Burwell, as Josh Marshall noted recently, is owned by the Republican Party. They paid for it; they pushed it. They will pay negative consequences if they win the case – and they could pay negative consequences if they lose the case.

The Republicans will encounter problems if they win King v. Burwell – eliminating billions of dollars worth of insurance subsidies for 8.5 million people will boomerang on the GOP. In fact, even if the government wins in King and the federal subsidies survive for those states using federally facilitated exchanges, the GOP will suffer losses. 

A number of persuasive legal arguments point to a probable victory for the government. But one of the most likely paths begins with the Court concluding that the Affordable Care Act statute is ambiguous – that both parties’ readings of the law are plausible – and that deference should go to the government. As Chief Justice John Roberts suggested with his one and only question at oral arguments, this would leave the door ajar for a future presidential administration to reinterpret the statute, and discontinue the subsidies. If that knowledge becomes public, even if the government wins, people will begin to understand that if a Republican wins the presidency, they will lose their subsidies and, therefore, their health insurance. So even if the GOP wins the court case, they lose.

How will the 8.5 million people with subsidies become more aware that they may lose their insurance if a Republican wins the presidency? If the government wins the Supreme Court case, it will create a new conservative litmus test for Republican presidential candidates. If elected, will you shut down the subsidies? I suspect most of the candidates will yield to pressure from the right and promise to do precisely that. Most immediately, this promise becomes a general election liability for the Republican primary winner. If that person becomes president, it will turn into an administrative and political nightmare, forcing states and the U.S. Congress to grapple with a completely Republican-created policy fiasco.

That the case was conceived by conservatives and endorsed by Republicans has created an extensive paper trail tying the GOP to the consequences of a decision for the challengers. It has also forced Republicans to publicly pretend as if they can and will fix the problems that flow from a King v. Burwell ruling for the plaintiffs. Initially the idea was to foam the runway for conservative justices eager to void the subsidies; it has now become knowledge that the public will hold Republicans accountable for the ensuing chaos.

Among the pitfalls of the extended charade is that Republican presidential candidates will reject and condemn proposals to clean up a King v. Burwell mess – especially if they seem to be real solutions.
“Things can’t be turned on a dime,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told Politico. “People can run for president, but we’ve actually got to solve a problem.” Cornyn may have been thinking of his fellow Texan Ted Cruz, who wants to use King v. Burwell as a pretext to repeal all of Obamacare. But Cornyn’s discomfort carries a whiff of inconsistency: Cornyn signed on to Republican briefs, first urging the justices to hear King and then asking them to void the subsidies. In January he eagerly anticipated that the Court would “render a body blow to Obamacare from which I don’t think it will ever recover.” 

Now Cornyn is realizing the consequences that the Republican Party may have to pay.

The promise for the Republicans of the King v. Burwell challenge has apparently faded. Republicans in Congress are quite likely incapable of solving the problem in a way that pleases conservatives, and will be little better equipped if a Republican president discontinues the subsidies on his own. Six months ago, Republicans claimed excitedly that the path to repealing Obamacare outright ran through a victory in King v. Burwell. Now they realize a ruling in their favor is likely a death knell for them in the 2016 presidential race.

As Rick Perry would say: Oops.

From TheWeek.com: “Republicans are very good at propaganda. But there are limits to such strategies. Southern Democrats attempted such a maneuver before the Civil War, when they attempted to simultaneously threaten secession and blame Republicans for breaking up the country. Abraham Lincoln famously skewered this logic:

“But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!" [Cooper Union Address]

“Much like the run-up to the 2012 election, it appears Republicans have drunk too deep of their own Kool-aid. They don't quite realize the raging political firestorm that will ensue if they manage to gut ObamaCare, or how easy it will be to pin the blame on them.” 

It seems that the best political outcome for Republicans would be to lose the case as conclusively and embarrassingly as possible.

But if they win, I hope the angry populace, after being adversely affected by the ruling, votes a landslide victory for Hillary and the Democrats, leaving the GOP high and dry.  I think they will.

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/18/us/politics/gop-is-wary-that-health-care-win-could-have-its-own-risks.html?_r=0

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Conservatives are immoral

This is a simple, obvious, and brilliant observation from David Atkins at Political Animal.  It explains why it is a waste of time trying to argue against Republicans about the free market or big government or personal liberty or any other "conservative" principle – because those are not conservatives' true principles. David writes: 

Conservatives can not be upfront and honest about their immoral beliefs because only about 30% of the American population shares them, and it is not okay to say most of these things in polite society. That is why they are so angry, why they feel oppressed, and why they “want their country back.”

As with so much else in modern America, the experience of Ferguson and Baltimore has turned police brutality into a partisan issue. With a few rare exceptions, Democrats and progressives tend to fall on the side of the victims of discriminatory and violent behavior by police, while conservatives tend to go to bat for the authorities.

The primary reason for this is racism: conservative whites tend to see urban minorities as either subhuman or guilty of cultural sins that are supposed to explain their endemic poverty. In that context, any police violence is excused as the necessary quelling by any means of an aggressively violent population unable to fit into civil society and unworthy of the civil rights afforded to non-minorities. It’s an immoral worldview, but extremely common among base Republicans.

The other reason is discrimination against the poor in general. Conservatives wrongly assume that the wealthy are society’s job creators, and the poor are simply moochers who feed off the generous fruits of the holders of capital. The military defends the righteous and free producers in America against the socialist and Communist freeloaders outside the U.S., while the police vigilantly defend property rights and social order against the ever-dangerous fifth column of parasites from within. That Objectivist viewpoint is just as factually wrong and immoral as the racist one, but it is also far more acceptable within polite society largely because it’s so convenient to the wealthy elite and their enablers.

The problem, of course, is that these views run directly counter to supposed conservative stances on liberty and the 2nd Amendment. Republicans claim to be the defenders of freedom against big government tyranny. More disturbingly, they insist that deadly arsenals be permitted in every American home and even on the streets—primarily as a defense against the potential for infringement on civil rights by a totalitarian state.

But where we see the government most actively and destructively impinging on the rights of its citizens, not only are conservatives mostly silent on the abuses but they stridently stand on the side of the unaccountable state enforcers.

The reason is obvious, of course: the only government tyranny conservatives truly fear is one in which the poor – and particularly the non-white poor – have the ability to constrain their property rights. Examples:

Welfare for the poor via taxation is seen as a greater evil than corporate malfeasance (and corporate welfare).
Cliven Bundy becomes a hero for threatening to shoot law enforcement that holds him accountable for stealing water and land, even as killer cops are lauded for killing unarmed black men for no legitimate reason.
Honesty about this is necessary. We cannot move forward as a society without honest conversation, and if conservatives refuse to be openly honest about what they believe, it falls on us to provide that honesty for them.

But most of all, it’s time to stop pretending that Republicans care about liberty or government abuse of power. They really care about keeping poor people and minorities from having access to the same quality of life they enjoy, and they will use every lever of tyranny to keep it way – whether through the ballot box or the ammo box.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Give Peace a Chance

Diplomacy can be difficult and time-consuming, but unlike the Neocon 'war first' ideology (preemptive war), diplomacy works. This week, President Obama delivered a message of peace with Iran that Republicans do not want to hear:

This week, together with our allies and partners, we reached an historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon and make our country, our allies, and our world safer.

This framework is the result of tough, principled diplomacy. It’s a good deal – a deal that meets our core objectives, including strict limitations on Iran’s program and cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.

This deal denies Iran the plutonium necessary to build a bomb. It shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon. Moreover, international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification. 

And this is a long-term deal, with strict limits on Iran’s program for more than a decade and unprecedented transparency measures that will last for 20 years or more. And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.
In return for Iran’s actions, the international community, including the United States, has agreed to provide Iran with phased relief from certain sanctions. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place. Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, all will continue to be enforced. 

As I said this week, many key details will need to be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed. And if there is backsliding, there will be no deal.

Here in the United States, I expect a robust debate. We’ll keep Congress and the American people fully briefed on the substance of the deal. As we engage in this debate, let’s remember – we really only have three options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program: bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities – which will only set its program back a few years – while starting another war in the Middle East; abandoning negotiations and hoping for the best with sanctions – even though that’s always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program; or a robust and verifiable deal like this one that peacefully prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

As President and Commander in Chief, I firmly believe that the diplomatic option, a comprehensive, long-term deal like this, is by far the best option – for the United States – for our allies – and for the world.

Our work – this deal – is not yet done. Diplomacy is painstaking work. Success is not guaranteed. But today we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us. And this will be our work in the days and months ahead in keeping with the best traditions of American leadership.

The reason it is difficult to believe that Republicans are seeking a "better deal" is because they have gone out of their way to sabotage the entire diplomatic process. Republicans are not even hiding their war agenda anymore making the situation with Iran a game of 'war or peace'.

Republicans never learn. The reality is that sanctions and military threats alone have not worked. Sanctions probably brought the Iranians to the negotiating table, but, as history has shown, they will not resolve issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. President Obama is correct – the door is open for a peaceful resolution.

Let's give peace a chance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Damn ignorant sheeple


We have been sentenced to two years of cruelty and hard labor. There will be no escaping the results. We wake up to a different world this morning, one not of our making – not the half of this country who cares about the 99%, the workers, the downtrodden. We like to say, “Those Texans deserve what they get when they vote for Ted Cruz,” or “Those Minnesotans deserve what they get when they elect Michele Bachmann,” and so forth. 
 
But the 2014 Midterms have come and gone, and I can tell you right now, having woke up to Scott Walker as governor of Wisconsin, Sam Brownback retaining his governorship of Kansas, Rick Scott still in charge in Florida, Kay Hagan losing to an asshat in North Carolina, and practically every last Democrat in Alabama – except those from heavily black counties – tossed out of the legislature due to the heavy gerrymandering, I don’t feel I deserve what I got.

This is a reverse Christmas, one where they come and take all your gifts away from you. The simple fact is that the Republicans conned America. They did so with corporate money, with the money of the wealthy who love their tax cuts, with the complicity of the mainstream media (for example, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd claiming – lying – during last night’s coverage that both parties had equal amounts of money to spend).

Republicans won this election by non-stop lying – with the help of FOX ‘news’– for the past six years, using fear to overpower reason and logic, to disregard facts and obscure them with doubt.

There are a few bright spots. That perpetual carpetbagger, Scott Brown, was sent packing, again, by Jeanne Shaheen, but he will almost certainly resurface in another state, and run for office there. It appears that Mark Warner held on by the skin of his teeth, Gary Peters won in Michigan, and David Ige won the governorship in Hawaii, but there is not much to be happy about this morning. There is simply no getting around the fact that today, November 5, 2014, the world is a lesser place, a bleaker place, a more hopeless place, than it was last night. 

This looks as bleak to me as when the George Dubya cabal ran the country.

We had hoped for a Democratic wave or at least holding the Senate. Instead, Reuters is calling last night a “rout.” David Axelrod is calling it a “Republican wave.” But it is the kind of wave that ruins lives instead of one you surf for fun. It can only be destructive with victories by the likes of Joni Ernst in Iowa, Rick Scott in Florida, and Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback in Kansas. 

You might remember that Pat Roberts is the guy who said if we go left, we go National Socialism (never mind that National Socialism is a right wing ideology), and that Sam Brownback drove the Kansas economy into the dust and wants to do the same thing nationally. And the Palinesque Joni Ernst…well, with her hard-core Tea Party line, she will no doubt soon enough give Iowans reason to rue dodging their polling places on Tuesday.

So no, half of us did not get what we deserved. 

You have to remember the great efforts Republicans went to suppress the vote, both by legal and by extra-legal means (intimidation). These days, you can’t even count on your vote registering for the Democrat you voted for because the machines are rigged or that your vote is being counted at all. That is how corrupt the GOP has become. Either voters in this country are incredibly stupid or the voting machines were rigged. I think machines were rigged. And many of us understood that these midterms represented a vote for or against Barack Obama, though he was not technically running. Some Democratic candidates cowardly distanced themselves from Obama, and my personal thought on that is that these people have earned their reward in defeat. 

While I take no satisfaction in their right-wing babbling, I did get a laugh at Reuters’ headline this morning: Tough road ahead for Obama after Republicans seize Senate. Are they saying he had an easy road before? Six years of endless obstruction, nullification, and racist attacks, and only now the road gets hard? Where has Reuters been hiding all this time? There is no ignoring the fact, however, that as Reuters says, last night was a “sharp rebuke” to President Obama…and a vastly undeserved one.

In the end, those who did not vote – and on the left there were manyfailed not only themselves but the rest of us. The millennials who failed to vote surrendered their hopes for prosperous careers; the elderly their comfortable retirement, and the working class their jobs, healthcare, and possibly, any hope of putting food on the table for their family.

Some Americans opted for economic ruination. Others had it thrust upon them. We have been sentenced to two years of cruelty and hard labor. There will be no escaping the results. Our salvation will be in 2016 with Hillary. Apparently, the liberal and progressive electorate only care enough to get out and vote during presidential elections. 

We will have to tighten our belts until then, America, because these rightwing nuts will steal from the poor to give to the rich. And Obama will likely cave in to the Republicans for the sake of "compromise" just as he did in his first term. I really wish he would stiffen his spine and become the Veto King.

I take heart from Alison Lundergan Grimes’ defiant speech – one can hardly call it a concession – her heart-felt rallying cry for tomorrow – a promise to be made good on. Going forward, remember this, and take heart, and don’t forget the cowards on MSNBC who called her ungracious.  I, for one, like Grimes, am not in a forgiving or a forgetting mood, and although I do not intend to grin, I will bear it. 

We all will bear what the damn ignorant sheeple have rained upon us deserved or not.




Edited from: The Likes of Mitch McConnell and Joni Ernst Leave America a Bleaker Place This Morning



Saturday, May 31, 2014

Is Obama running for something in my state?


There has been one particularly enlightening thing I have learned from the constant television advertisements leading into next week's primary election: 

Apparently, Barack Obama is running for something in my state.

He surely must be, because virtually every TV ad I've seen depicts the candidate as being eager to fight all the evils that Obama has heaped upon us, from the Affordable Care Act to gun control to expansion in the Southeastern Conference.

Remember the saying about the "perfect country song"?  It had to contain the words Mama, pick-ups, trains, prison, getting drunk.  How about a perfect Republican ad in the South?  It must contain the words Obama, guns, Obama, Bible, Obama, Jeeeeesus, Obama, prayer, Obama, cut taxes, Obama, illegals, Obama. Half the time, you don't even know what office the candidate is seeking. Whatever it is, inevitably his or her impact in “the war against Obama” would be like adding one more needle to the haystack - can't find it.

You have to give the campaign experts credit, though. They know the southern marketplace. They know they are reaching an audience – elephant in the room here – where some people fear or resent a powerful black man. They know fact-checking in TV ads is not a requirement; it's only an option.

I know you have seen the commercials. They are one-size-fits-all:

It opens with the candidate wearing his shirt sleeves rolled up, earnestly nodding among a group of citizens prominently including blacks, Asians, and women. Then there is a quick scene where he earnestly smiles as he shakes hands with a farmer (white); and another scene where he earnestly listens to a woman (white) outside a grocery store or sitting on a park bench.

The narrator comes on, voice sounding like a smooth operator:

"Dave Goodhair is a great American and a great (person from any southern state). He'll stand up against Obamacare. He'll fight to save (our state) from the left-wing Obama-Pelosi-Clinton conspiracy that threatens our very way of life.  Dave Goodhair will keep Obama from breaking into your homes and stealing your guns. He will stop Obama from banning Waffle Houses from serving grits. Dave Goodhair will fight Obama to assure (our state) doesn't fall victim to Pelosi-led Washington insiders who want to raise taxes on live bait and baseball caps."

There are quick cuts to an American flag. Then, a three-second screen shot of a newspaper page where the words "Obama" and "evil" are highlighted, even if they come from separate stories.

Then there is the assurance that "Dave Goodhair will create jobs," not elaborating that those jobs will be for employment on his staff for the daughter of his biggest contributor and his ex-con brother.

Then cut back to the candidate with his family, who apparently got a group discount on dimples:

"Dave Goodhair. American. Dave Goodhair, Christian. Dave Goodhair, lieutenant, high school ROTC. Dave Goodhair, family man."

Finally, the graphics that inform us of the office being sought:

"Elect Dave Goodhair. Comptroller, State Department Of Orange Highway Cones. Paid for by a political pact run by Dave Goodhair's rich father-in-law."

Even one of my great right-wing friends told me the other day: "If you're running for Lt. Governor or the Public Service Commission (PSC), I really don't care that you plan to 'stand up to Obama.'  I don't care that you know how to hold or shoot a gun. Tell me what you are going to do to benefit the people of our state. Otherwise, your mail flier is going straight into the recycling bin."

If there is one thing more annoying than the TV ads, it's the robo-calls and polls. I got this one the other day: "If you were voting for the state school board, for which candidate would you vote?"

I don't know – maybe the one in favor of less testing and more just plain teaching in our schools?

That reminded me of the old joke. A man visiting Harvard asks a student, "Where's the library at?" The student stiffly replied, "At Harvard, we don't end a sentence in a preposition." To which the visitor said, "OK, where's the library at, jerk?"

Now, excuse me. Another Dave Goodhair election ad is on TV. Where's my remote control at?







Edited from an article by Mark McCarter on AL.com 



Sunday, May 11, 2014

The ACA is here to stay


Republicans are so stunned by the news that total ACA enrollment has reached 17.8 million that they seem to have decided to forget all about Obamacare. Most Republicans no longer mention the word “Obamacare”. Instead, in their hope to distract their base from noticing that they were unable to dismantle Obamacare, they are changing the subject to Benghazi. 

The biggest enrollment number is 8,019,863, which is the total number people enrolled in private Marketplace plans through state-based and federal exchange. Insurers say the percentage of people who have activated their coverage by paying their first premium is 80 to 90 percent – and experts believe it will rise when new policyholders hit their first payment deadline.

In the meantime, the numbers via an HHS press release:

“Importantly, 2.2 million (28 percent) of those who selected a Marketplace plan were young adults ages 18 to 34 — a number that grows to 2.7 million when counting ages 0 to 34, the report found. The report also shows, for the first time, the race and ethnicity of the 69 percent of enrollees in the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces who voluntarily reported this information.

“HHS also announced today that more than 4.8 million additional individuals enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP through the end of March 2014, compared to enrollment before the Marketplace opened last October. 

“More than eight million Americans signed up through the Marketplace, exceeding expectations and demonstrating brisk demand for quality, affordable coverage,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “In addition, over 4.8 million more people have been covered by states through Medicaid and CHIP programs, around 3 million more Americans under 26 are covered under their parents’ plans, and recent estimates show that an additional 5 million people have purchased coverage outside of the Marketplace in Affordable Care Act-compliant plans. Together we are ensuring that health coverage is more accessible than ever before, which is important for families, for businesses and for the nation’s health and well being.” 

The states with the largest numbers of people selecting plans through the exchanges during the six-month open enrollment period included California (1.4 million), Florida (983,800), Texas (733,800), New York (370,500), North Carolina (357,600), Pennsylvania (318,100) and Georgia (316,500). California and New York run their own exchanges. The other five use the federal marketplace. According to the HHS report, the majority of ACA enrollees are white (62.3%) and female (54%). Thirty-four percent of those who enrolled are under age 35, and 28% are age 18-34. 

If we exempt the additional 5 million people who have purchased private ACA-compatible coverage directly from health insurance companies (outside of the Marketplace), the total number of people who now have ACA coverage that likely would not have insurance without the ACA is 12.8 million. That number is for this year – just wait until next year, and the next.  The CBO has said that they believe that by 2016 we will be looking at 25 million to 30 million people enrolled in health plans through the American Healthcare Act (Obamacare).

Republicans have reacted to this news by changing the subject to Benghazi. They have to gin up a scandal to beat the Democrats in 2014 and 2016 since they cannot win an election on policy. These days, Speaker Boehner only wants to talk about the Benghazi emails:

“Someone needs to answer why this administration hid these documents – and tell the American people what else is being concealed. The House used its subpoena power to obtain documents, including emails, last year, but these emails didn’t show up until now, after a court ordered their release to an outside watchdog group. This defiance of the House’s subpoena power is the most flagrant example yet of the administration’s contempt for the American people’s right to know the truth about what happened when four Americans died in a fiery terrorist attack. If the White House will not explain it, Secretary Kerry should come to the Capitol to explain why he defied an official congressional subpoena. And the White House needs to understand that this investigation will not end until the entire truth is revealed and justice and accountability are served.” 

There have already been several investigations that have proven there was no wrong doing other than Republicans cutting the budget by millions for the security of embassies. I think we should go back and investigate the 9 embassy attacks that happened under the Bush administration. Better yet, let's investigate why the Bush administration led us into the Iraq War and why the warnings leading up to the attack on the World Trade Center were ignored.

It is not just John Boehner and the Republican Party; from Fox News to Rush Limbaugh, no one is talking about the ACA (Obamacare) anymore. And since they cannot allow their base to realize that they have failed to destroy Obamacare, they must gin up another bogus scandal as a distraction.  

The ACA is now and forever entrenched into society. We have won the battle. 30 million people have won.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This goes against everything Jesus taught us


Between the end of World War II and the early 1980s, America was on its way to becoming closer to an egalitarian society than at any time in its history. All that ended with the election of B-movie actor Ronald Reagan in 1980. His election was the beginning of America’s march away from egalitarianism and on a path toward oligarchy. Thirty-three years after this “acting” president did his damage to this nation, the race toward an oligarch government is reaching fruition due to Republicans’ success at convincing the ignorant masses that giving up their possessions so that the rich “job creators” can have huge tax cuts. The poor masses have been told that this will start them on the path to prosperity.

Yeah, right. If you believe this Republican lie, then let me sell you a bridge. 

Crucial to Reagan’s diabolical trickle down economic theory was the so-called “moral majority” Christian movement whose support continues to enable the Republican transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the richest Americans. It is doubtful that what Americans regard as Christians, either then or today, have any knowledge of Jesus Christ’s teachings regarding the rich having no chance of entering the kingdom of heaven, or that he instructed the rich to sell all their possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. If today’s so-called “followers of Christ” had paid attention in Sunday School or read a few verses in three of the Christian bible’s “Gospel Accounts,” so-called Christians would reject Republicans if for no other reason than their preferential treatment of the very people Christ said had about as much hope of getting into Heaven as a camel passing through the eye of the needle.

It is now standard conservative policy for Republicans to condemn Americans as greedy and envious for the mortal sin of expecting to keep what little they have, and over the past five years particularly expect Americans to worship and pay tribute to the rich by giving up basic necessities of life so that the rich may get another tax cut. Jesus never instructed his disciples, and there is nothing in the Gospels, reverence toward the rich or kissing the ground they walk on. Yet, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association thinks that is what Jesus wanted and counsels Americans receiving government services to “kiss the ground beneath the feet of the one percent.”

Yes, he really did say that!

Fischer, as director of Issues Analysis for the extremist Christian American Family Association (AFA), said that people who use welfare and other government services needed to “kiss the ground beneath the richest 1 percent of Americans.Fischer also said Americans who paid into Social Security retirement and Medicare throughout their working lives had no right to collect, or expect to collect, on their benefits when they retire. According to this so-called “follower of Christ,” Americans are laboring under a “myth” that they had a right to collect on their so-called “earned government benefits” which he calls “entitlements.”  He says that your social security and Medicare are socialism even though you pay for it.

Fischer scolded the poor and middle class and explained that “rather than the poor, the low income, and the middle class being resentful of these rich people, they should be kissing the ground on which they walk! They ought to be given ticker-tape parades once a week in all of our major cities to thank them for funding welfare for everybody.” However, Fischer’s blasphemy against Jesus Christ’s teachings did not stop with demanding that the 99% fall down and prostate themselves before the rich. He also railed against the government and “the involuntary transfer of wealth through taxation” he asserted “makes us a socialist country. This is Marxism on display.” In 2012, another Christian extremist, mega-church preacher Rick Warren said via Twitter that “HALF of America pays NO taxes. Zero, so they’re happy for tax rates to be raised on the other half that DOES pay taxes.” 

Jesus likely wept when he heard this.

According to Fischer who adheres to Republican conservatism as if it were a religion, President Obama is guilty of using the Internal Revenue service to “go after the 1 percent.” This is a claim Republicans believe, proven by their defending income inequality and protecting the rich from any tax reform. Fischer and Warren can bemoan and label taxation whatever their bastardized Christianity informs them, but Jesus commanded his followers to “render unto Caesar what is Caesars,” and their Christian bible saysLet every soul be subject to the governing authorities. Whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” Even a half-wit bible-thumper from the bible belt can comprehend those simple directions. They also understand that Jesus commanded the rich to sell all their possession and give to the poor; instructions that are contrary to current conservative Christian ideology that demands the rich be held up as idols.

The state of the “conservative” movement, and increasingly the Christian conservative movement, has become a religious testament to oligarchy – and to the philosophy that the masses exist to serve the rich. They expect the poor to give up what little they have so that the rich can have more. Republicans have become so blatantly pro-one-percent that despite their weeping and gnashing of teeth over “crushing deficits” for the past five years, they have the temerity to blatantly and without apology pass an unfunded $310 billion tax cut for the rich and corporations, increasing the deficit they claim is an affront to “our children and grandchildren’s economic future.”

Like the so-called Christian right, Republicans are not even hiding their idolatry of the rich and hatred of the poor and middle class. They claim the lower classes are greedy and envious for objecting to conservatives taking everything from them to further enrich the already wealthy. 

Americans seem to be making oligarchy their new religion. One day refusing to kneel down and worship the rich will be a crime.


Edited from: Right Wing Christians Tell The Poor To Kiss The Ground Beneath The Feet Of the 1%, by Rmuse; http://www.politicususa.com/2014/05/03/wing-christians-poor-kiss-ground-beneath-feet-1.html

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

If wishes had wings…


The problems facing the Affordable Care Act's website have given the law's critics no shortage of ammunition to take potshots at President Obama's signature legislative accomplishment. But to hear those critics tell it, the ACA's problems are a growing catastrophe in which Democrats are poised to jump shipand the law is just a second away from repeal. Repeal of the ACA is and always has been a fantasy. And right now this fantasy is being enabled by members of the mainstream press for whom the ACA's problems somehow merit embellishment. Apparently, they have nothing else over which to cry that the sky is falling – and they have to be able to scream about something that is devastatingly world changing to justify their existence.

Tea Party congressmen and conservative pundits have been keeping the repeal fantasy alive ever since the law was signed back in 2010. The backlash from the government shutdown, which was inspired by Tea Party efforts to gut the ACA, did nothing to dull enthusiasm for the "repeal Obamacare" crowd. "Obamacare will be repealed well in advance of the 2014 elections," conservative writer Steven Hayward wrote in Forbes on November 11. "There is a chance Obamacare could be repealed in a bipartisan vote," wrote Ed Rogers in the Washington Post. Peggy Noonan  wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Congress "could try to vote now, under new conditions and with the American people behind them, to repeal the whole thing… And who knows, they just might." 

No… they will not. 

This is nothing but empty wishing. Even if Republicans in the Senate did somehow manage to pass a bill ‘over Harry Reid's dead body’ repealing the ACA, it would absolutely be vetoed by President Obama. Congress does not have the two-thirds votes in both houses to override the President’s veto.

But this is what pundits and activists do: shape and spin stories to conform to their preferred outcome. The National Journal's Josh Kraushaar, rather than tamping down this irrational enthusiasm among the law's opponents, is giving it a big push. "There's a growing likelihood that over time enough Democrats may join Republicans to decide to start over and scrap the whole complex health care enterprise," Kraushaar writes in his November 18 column. He argued to the point of being meaningless – he is saying there is an increased chance of something possibly happening over an indeterminate time period if everything lines up perfectly – but Kraushaar nonetheless wants us to think that the threat of repeal is real:

"Consider [this],” wrote Kraushaar, “Despite the White House's protestations, 62.4 percent of the House voted for Michigan GOP Rep. Fred Upton's legislation (261-157) was just shy of the two-thirds necessary to override a veto." 

Kraushaar is comparing apples to oranges. Upton's bill was not about full repeal of the law. Upton's bill, which would permit health insurers to continue selling plans that don't meet the ACA's minimum standards, reflected Democratic frustration with the website. The vote itself was essentially symbolic. The bill will not be taken up by the Senate – Harry Reid will never bring it to the floor – and it would never survive an Obama veto. Those Democrats went into the vote knowing that it would not have any impact on policy.  They did it for cover back home. So you cannot extrapolate from that symbolic expression of frustration a desire to scrap the whole law. 

Kraushaar arrived at the notion that repeal is visible on the horizon by sketching out immense political shifts and alignments of the planets and stars that must occur in order to arrive at veto-proof majorities.  In doing so, Kraushaar unwittingly demonstrated exactly how the repeal fantasy will never come true.
 
Republicans are all wishing and dreaming. “If wishes had wings…” my grandmother used to say.





Saturday, November 16, 2013

Enough already, part 2: Benghazi


60 Minutes apparently believed in the right wing storyline about Benghazi. As a result, they produced a story that never should have aired – and they ended up with egg on their faces. CBS News is now trying to say they were misled by their source, when the reality is that they had ample opportunity to challenge the story before they aired it. But just like every other Benghazi story told by the mainstream media, Davies’ account lacked evidence. In fact, their source, Dylan Davies, was a liar who was looking for fame and fortune.

Lara Logan of 60 Minutes, CBS, claimed that their source had been properly vetted, but it is clear that they heard what they wanted to hear. They wanted a big Benghazi story that would show the President as having covered up what “really happened.” To make matters worse, CBS never disclosed that Davies’ book, Embassy House – about his supposed participation in fighting terrorists during the Benghazi attack – is being published by a subsidiary of CBS. If 60 Minutes would have done even the most basic of investigations into their source’s ethical background, they would have found a liar who has changed his story numerous times. 

All of this should have given CBS News reason for pause, but it didn’t. It is one thing to get a story wrong, but it is quite another to look the other way and air a partisan story that is full of holes from the beginning. CBS has participated in another right wing attempt to smear President Obama and Hillary Clinton. But the story has crashed and burned – and it took the credibility of 60 Minutes down with them too.

Most of us would agree that any time our diplomats are not protected from a terrorist attack; it is a failure of security measures and intelligence. But after 14 months, we should be able to look at what happened with some rationality. The attack was terrible, but Benghazi was just one of at least 157 attacks on our diplomatic facilities over a 15-year period, 9 of which resulted in U.S. fatalities, which many of you have forgotten because they were not covered hourly for 14 months on Fox News.

There have been several investigations into Benghazi by an independent panel and by congressional committees, none of which have found a scandal or a cover-up. Yet the attack on Benghazi has been politicized by Republicans eager for a second-term Obama scandal or to embarrass Hillary Clinton – and by Fox News to pump up their ratings. 

Apparently the media does not want to believe that there is no administrative cover-up regarding Benghazi. Several times, the mainstream media, eager to show its ‘toughness’ on Obama (and there are so many opportunities to do exactly that, from drones and illegal spying to the botched Obamacare website), have fallen flat on their face. It started with a false story by ABC's Jon Karl, but now "60 Minutes" has been duped to a new low in Benghazi coverage:

NEW YORK -- Security officer Dylan Davies admitted this weekend that he lied to a superior in September 2012 about his whereabouts the night of the Benghazi attack. But Davies says his latest version of events, told on CBS' "60 Minutes" and in a new memoir, are true.

“I am just a little man against some big people here,” Davies told The Daily Beast in an interview published Saturday, suggesting he was the victim of a smear campaign.

Davies’ account of the night four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in a terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi has been challenged since he appeared Oct. 27 on “60 Minutes,” in an interview CBS billed as “the first eyewitness account from a westerner” on the ground that night.

The Washington Post revealed that Davies once provided a different account of the events. The Post reported that Davies previously claimed to have never reached the compound on the night of the attack, saying he only arrived the day after. But in the version he relayed on “60 Minutes,” as well as in a new memoir published under a pseudonym, Davies arrives at the compound as the battle rages on and tangles with a terrorist.

Davies landed a coveted "60 Minutes" interview to promote his book, Embassy House, published by Simon & Shuster, a business partner of CBS under the Viacom umbrella. But other journalists had serious problems with his story. Fox News Channel, believe it or not, had problems with reporting on Davies when he started asking for money, which is a huge no-no.

The real problem here is one that we have seen time and time again. In trying to show that it was "fair and balanced" and could report a story on an issue being pushed by conservatives, CBS twisted things to where it was completely unfair and unbalanced, abandoning the basic journalistic tenet of following the truth, no matter how inconvenient. 

CBS News deserves credit for one thing. Unlike when ABC News pushed a false story on Benghazi that made the President look bad, CBS apologized and retracted their story. The nation is still waiting for Jon Karl and ABC to apologize and retract their story about the Benghazi emails.  When "60 Minutes" got it wrong nine years ago on the details of George W. Bush leaving the Texas Air National Guard, people lost their jobs, including Dan Rather. And, in just the same way, heads need to roll at "60 Minutes" for its completely false Benghazi report – especially since it stirred up another round of Benghazi hearings by the GOP this week so that many Teapublicans could quote the lies from the CBS report.

Damn. Enough already. 

The right wing needs to quit with the false Benghazi stuff. Sadly, Benghazi is one of many embassy attacks through the decades in which Americans lost their lives. (One of the worst was the Lebanon attack during the Reagan years.) The President and Hillary Clinton did what they were supposed to do – which was to call in reinforcements.  But those reinforcements did not get there in time. 
 
Give it up, Righties. There is no smoking gun.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

To the GOP: Enough Already


Do you remember the rollout of Medicare Part D? It was a mess.

I have had enough of this Republican gloating about HealthCare.gov. Yes, the website was and is a major and inexcusable fiasco. So they were entitled to a week of “we told ya so” – or even two. But really, it has practically been a month now. Enough already. 

I know that we can expect no decency from the GOP, so this will sound na├»ve, but truly, what they should be doing is helping their constituents figure it all out. That is what the Democrats did in a similar situation not too long ago. I refer, of course, to the Medicare Part D implementation in late 2005 and early 2006. That was the big prescription drug bill passed in 2003. You remember – it is the one where the Republicans did not have the votes in the House, even though they controlled the House, and Speaker Tom DeLay held the floor open for 15 minutes after the bell rang as his lieutenants went around and badgered and threatened some GOP members until they changed their vote from nay to aye. 

Most Democrats voted against the bill. In the House just 16 of 203 Democratic members voted yes. In the Senate, however, 11 of 48 Democrats voted for the new Bush entitlement. First, let’s just stop right there. Could you imagine 16 and 11 Republicans ever voting for an Obama legislative priority, something that was clearly Obama’s “baby” in the same way that the Part D bill was Bush’s? There would be no end to the slobbering over Republicans for being so reasonable. As I recall, the Democrats were attacked at the time for not supporting the bill enough. 

Two years later, the rollout came. It was a mess. In mid-October 2005, the Bush administration announced a delay. But a month later, as Jon Perr noted recently at Crooks & Liars, the planned comparison-shopping website still wasn’t up and running. Even after it finally was, it was confusing and a mess. Some sample headlines: “Web-based Comparison of Prescription Plans Delayed,” The Washington Post; “Glitches Mar Launch of Medicare Drug Plan,” The Wall Street Journal; “President Tells Insurers to Aid Ailing Medicare Drug Plan,” The New York Times.

Needless to say, some of the same people now trying to put the hex on Obamacare spent 2006 pooh-poohing the glitches – as Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) put it back then. I’m sure they would say the two laws are different things, and it is true that the Affordable Care Act is a bigger undertaking. But they are precisely similar in spirit – big, new government programs that depended largely on citizen interaction via personal computer. And the Obama law corrects what was conspicuously awful about the Bush law – the so-called doughnut hole in prescription drug coverage.

But the biggest difference between the two laws is not how Republicans behaved back then but how Democrats did. Most Democrats voted against the law; but they did not then sue the Bush administration and try to take the thing to the Supreme Court and get it invalidated. And then, when the start-up was a mess, Democrats did not go around saying it was proof the law had to go. They tried to help fix it.   

Hillary Clinton, then a senator, said: “I voted against it, but once it passed I certainly determined that I would try to do everything I could to make sure that New Yorkers understood it, could access it, and make the best of it.”  It is interesting that we have this quote from someone the press has described over the years as one of the most polarizing women in America. Here she was being the exact opposite of polarizing, just doing what was then her job, being a normal and rational human being and public servant. She was deciding, amazingly enough, that the needs of her senior-citizen constituents who might benefit from the law once the kinks were worked out were more important than any grudge or animus she might bear toward the sitting administration. Her husband said it well Sunday, while campaigning with Terry McAuliffe: 

“But our side, we are not so ideological. So instead of bashing them and screaming about how incompetent they were, most of our people just tried to help people understand the law and make it work, and then wait for it to get fixed.”

And yet here was Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on TV on Sunday spouting the same lies and scare-tactics that has been gushing from their mouths for a month. And there was Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), having no earthly idea what she was talking about on CNN. Neither Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Sen. Rand Paul had one kind word to say for Kentucky’s excellent implementation of the law under Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. About 15,000 Kentuckians had enrolled as of last week

This is yet another stomach-turning GOP-induced state of affairs. I am sick and tired of hearing that Obamacare is an existential threat to their idea of America. Grow up and get over it. You lost this political fight. You may someday win, but until the day you do, behave like adults and as if you actually love the democracy you live in.  And you might consider behaving like the Democrats did back in 2006 when you passed the unpaid for Medicare Part D that added millions of dollars to the deficit. 

Edited from: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, October 29, 2013 Grow Up And Get Over It: Enough Already On HealthCare.Gov, Don’t You Remember Medicare Part D?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Where are the Adults?


The leaders of the Republican Party, in full flight from their disastrous and juvenile shutdown stunt, now want to restock their ranks with grown-ups. “Let’s face it: it was not a good maneuver,” Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah told The New York Times recently. “You’ve got to have the adults running the thing.”

Mr. Hatch and other establishment senators believe that grown-ups would not threaten the country’s full faith and credit, or keep the government closed, in order to get their way. That’s true, but it’s a rather pallid definition of maturity. A mature and responsible political party would do more than prevent a government default; it would offer serious solutions to the nation’s most pressing problems instead of running from them. 

And it is there that Republicans – whether adults or Tea Party members – continue to let the public down.
At a time when the economy is desperate for federal help and 11.3 million people are still unemployed, the party – and not just its far-right wing – is still pretending that cutting spending and lowering the deficit remain the country’s most urgent priorities. Republicans won’t acknowledge that tax increases, along with spending cuts they have forced on the country, have already driven the deficit down to 4 percent of the economy, from 10 percent in 2009. Their appetite for billions in further cuts has only grown.

This will become obvious next week when the budget committees of the House and Senate gather for their first conference on the budget for fiscal year 2014, which began more than three weeks ago. (Republicans had refused the repeated requests of Democrats for a negotiation since April.) The conference is a moment to finally set aside the sequester cuts that have hobbled the economy and begin needed investments in education and infrastructure, rebuilding cities and the lives of those left behind.

But Republicans won’t hear of it.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking member of the budget panel, says that keeping the current spending caps is a bedrock principle. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, supposedly an anti-shutdown “adult,” wants to use the conference to cut social-welfare entitlements and give corporations more tax cuts. “We have to make a down payment on the debt and deficit,” he told Congressional Quarterly. That down payment has already been made, many times over – and Democrats have vowed not to even consider entitlement changes in the absence of big tax increases on the rich.

What ails the economy now is not corporate taxes but the iron lid on spending, clamped tight for two years.
 
The Republicans’ obsession with deficits is already taking a huge toll on the poor, who have seen cutbacks in vital programs, and could well see more if the Republicans have their way. Next week, for instance, a House-Senate conference on the farm bill will consider a proposal from allegedly “grown-up” House Republicans that would cut $39 billion from food stamps, which would push three million people off the program a year. Democrats will be so busy fighting off that proposal that they will have a hard time reversing the scheduled cut for all food stamp recipients that begins in November.

Senator Lamar Alexander says his party needs to persuade the public that it can be trusted with government. To do so, Republicans will have to do much more than simply reopen government’s doors.



In Search for Republican Grown-Ups, By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Don’t fart and then blame the dog


When Jon Stewart said this about the Republicans shutting down the government and then trying to put the blame for the shutdown on the Democrats and on President Obama, I rolled with laughter.  The statement was funny, but the situation was not.

The Republicans, led by Ted Cruz, figured the Democrats would cave to their demands, and did not care that the shutdown cost us $24 billion, according to Standard & Poor's.  They wanted to shut down the government rather than fund Obamacare. Later, some Republicans insisted it was not about Obamacare, but about stopping our “out-of-control” debt (they didn't mention our overall debt burden is declining). They did not care that consumer confidence has plunged to its lowest level since the '08 Wall Street meltdown. They did not care that, according to a report from the conservative Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the debt ceiling crisis they have manufactured since 2011 has cost the country 900,000 jobs. And they did not care that the shutdown and possible debt default threatened the world economy, causing an Australian paper to wonder if "lunatics" had taken over in Washington.

In poll after poll, Americans blamed Republicans for the disaster, with Business Insider calling it "a catastrophe" for the GOP.  So the Republicans tried to shift the blame to the Democrats. Ted Cruz and Tea Party conglomerate Freedom Works vainly tried to label it "Harry Reid's shutdown" for the Democratic Senate majority leader. The problem is their argument would not stick because the American people would not blame ‘Big Government’ Democrats for shutting down the very same government that the Republicans want to shrink and drown in a bathtub.

As polls showed that the GOP suffered a humiliating loss over the shutdown, its own members are pointing fingers of blame at each other.  Complicit pundits, in their zeal to be ‘fair and balanced’ have turned their attention to Obama and pretended the shutdown was a loss for him, too. Why? Because the media stipulate that if both sides were to blame for the shutdown then both sides suffered losses. So pundits pretend the crisis highlighted a lack of leadership on Obama’s part.  The agreed-upon script is that the GOP’s stunning implosion meant Obama failed to lead by not bringing the two parties together. He wasn’t persuasive enough. If he had just tried a little harder, asked a little nicer, Republicans would have come around.

When Obama’s immediate predecessor, President Bush, was sworn into office, he was soon greeted by liberal Democrat George Miller (D-CA) who promised to help him secure the votes he needed to pass an education bill. And it was liberal Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) who personally guided Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation through Congress. Thanks to extremist Republicans, that political world in Washington no longer exists because Republicans re-wrote the rules. Yet pundits keep scoring Obama against the old rules. They keep scolding him for not winning over Republicans who refuse to work with him.

“…There is a reason Republicans almost certainly cannot be won over,” noted Washington Post writer Greg Sargent, who regularly pushes back against the media’s “leadership” charade. “And that this reason resides not in the failure of presidential persuasion but in basic realities about today’s GOP.”

Just ask Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). After he defied his party and tried to help get a bipartisan background gun check bill through Congress last winter, he explained its defeat: “In the end it didn’t pass because we are so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.” And with that, Toomey, a Republican senator, gave away the game. He pulled back the curtain and confirmed how the Republican Party actually functions under Obama: It fights him on every conceivable front, withholding the slightest bit of support not because most members do not want to see Obama succeed.

There a strong argument to be made that Obama did lead by staring down the radicals inside the Republican Party who closed the government down in search of political ransom. Obama stood firm like a brick wall against the force of the Republican sedition on behalf of the majority of Americans who disapproved of the shutdown and the Republican Party, and who did not want Obama to give in to the party’s outlandish demands.

The lack of leadership is not coming from the oval office. It is the Republicans who are not leading and yet blame Obama of such.  It is the Republicans who are harming the economy and yet try to blame Obama for it not growing fast enough. It is the Republicans who do not care if the country is destroyed in their attempt to achieve their unholy goal of taking down our president – not the reverse. It is the Republicans who are acting like traitors – not Obama. It is the Republicans who farted horribly in shutting down the government and then attempted to pin the stink on Obama.


Sources: Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beginning of the end of the Tea Party?


Congress has finally worked out a deal to end the government shutdown and dodge default, but not before the Republican Party demonstrated to Americans just how conflicted and dangerous it is.
Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, this week described our current Congress as a greater danger to national security than Al Qaeda, writing, “We don’t tend to talk about Congress as — at this stage — what it plainly is: the clearest and most present danger in the world to the national security of the United States.”

That is what the GOP-led House has brought us. Conservatives outside the chamber know defeat when they see it, and want to live to fight another day. But they beat their chests in vain as their laments fall on the deaf ears of the far-right political death squads.

On Tuesday, the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial pages blasted:

“This is the quality of thinking — or lack thereof — that has afflicted many GOP conservatives from the beginning of this budget showdown. They picked a goal they couldn’t achieve in trying to defund ObamaCare from one House of Congress, and then they picked a means they couldn’t sustain politically by pursuing a long government shutdown and threatening to blow through the debt limit.”

Senator John McCain said this week, “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

Senator Lindsey Graham put it more bluntly: “We really did go too far. We screwed up.”

But, far-right elements of the House cannot be reasoned with. They prefer to go down in a blaze of glory – or at least take the country down in one. And arguably no one is more the face of this disaster than Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, labeled by one New York Republican representative, Peter King, as a “fraud” and “false prophet.”  

The Houston Chronicle editorial board on Tuesday took the extraordinary step of trying to withdraw its endorsement of Cruz, an endorsement that no doubt helped get him elected. An editorial posted to the paper’s Web site began, “Does anyone else miss Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison?” that Senator Cruz replaced. It went on:

“When we endorsed Ted Cruz in last November’s general election, we did so with many reservations and at least one specific recommendation – that he follow Hutchison’s example in his conduct as a senator. Obviously, he has not done so. Cruz has been part of the problem in specific situations where Hutchison would have been part of the solution.”

It seems everyone is waking up to what a disaster this current Republican contingent of extremists has become and how poisonous they are to the functioning of our democracy. Better late than never, I suppose.

Cruz’s favorable ratings are underwater in Pew’s, Gallup’s, Fox News’ and Quinnipiac’s polling. But then, Cruz doesn’t put much stake in polls, with their pesky numbers.

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken last week, views of the Republican Party sank to record lows and 70 percent of respondents thought Republicans in Congress were putting their own political agenda ahead of what was good for the country.

The poll also found that negative feelings about the Tea Party had risen, with 47 percent saying they had negative feelings about the group, including 34 percent who described their feelings as “very negative.” Just 21 percent of Americans now say they feel positive about the group.

But when Cruz was asked Friday about the poll, he dismissed it as having a problematic methodology. He said: “If you seek out liberal Obama supporters and ask them their views, they’re going to tell you they’re liberal Obama supporters. That’s not reflective of where this country is.” In fact, it is Cruz’s methodology that is flawed. His grandiloquence may well be the undoing of the Grand Old Party.

According to a Pew Research report released Tuesday “…A record-high 74% of registered voters now say that most members of Congress should not be reelected in 2014 (just 18% say they should). By comparison, at similar points in both the 2010 and 2006 midterm cycles only about half of registered voters wanted to see most representatives replaced.”

The report also found “…An early read of voter preferences for the 2014 midterm shows that the Democrats have a six-point edge: 49% of registered voters say they would vote for or lean toward voting for the Democratic candidate in their district, while 43% support or lean toward the Republican candidate.”

Republicans terribly misplayed a weak hand on the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. There was never any chance of success other than scaring the president and the Democrats into caving. President Obama and Harry Reid called their bluff. The Republicans were left with no options.

This is an embarrassment for the country, yes, but it is also an embarrassment for the Republican Party by laying bare their motives, tactics, and intention. Voters are likely to not forget this come next November.

As the conservative Matt Drudge tweeted on Wednesday: “Speaker Pelosi Part 2: Opening Jan 5, 2015.”

I hope so.




By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, October 16, 2013