In the USA...Some Republicans are nuts, but the party leaders are not
By Harry Enten, The Guardian
Sunday, August 25, 2013 4:53 EDT
There are extreme Republicans, but the leadership is not about to allow the party to go the way of the Whigs
News watchers these days have to strain their head not to hear a story about Republicans going off the deep end. Whether it be the asinine attempts to derail Obamacare in Congress, impeachment talks, or harsh voter identification laws passed in North Carolina, some of the more extreme members of the Republican party are front and center.
The question is whether or not these very conservative members are taking control of the Republican party and perhaps throwing it the way of the Whigs. I don’t just mean as talking-heads on Fox News. I mean leaders of the party.
I can think of two ways we can figure this out. First, we can look at who is leading the party in Congress, since they are elected by their fellow congressmen. Second, we can look at who the party is most likely to nominate in 2016.
On the first point, it’s important to remember that most congressmen have little power, even if they scream from the high tops. Loud members of this group include former Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Anthony Weiner. They may have appeared a lot on television, but didn’t hold much sway when it came to legislating. The key is to look at who chairs committees. These are the people who usher legislation through the US government. Those who hold the purse strings. The people who set the agenda. The people who hold sway.
It used to be that seniority was the main determinant of committee chairmanship, but that’s changed over the past 20 years. Other factors such party unity and the ability to fundraise are more important in determining chairmanships, which make it a good measure of where the center of power is. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is actually slightly more toward the middle than the median Republican. Per DW-nominate scores, which is based on roll call voting, even the more conservative Minority Whip John Cornyn is within a standard deviation of his party’s center.
The chairmen of the important committees also tend to be more moderate. Senators Grassley of Iowa, Hatch of Utah, and Shelby of Alabama are all more moderate than the caucus as a whole. In fact, Grassley is the 7th least conservative Republican in the Senate. Only the conservative Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who is still more moderate than Marco Rubio, is to the right part of the caucus.
This extends to the House as well. There is no score for Speaker Boehner, but Majority Leader Eric Cantor is more moderate than the potential 2016 presidential nominees per Nate Silver. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is right in the middle of the Republican caucus per DW-nominate scores. The chairmen of the Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, Transportation, and Ways and Means are all more moderate than the caucus as a whole. This includes Fred Upton of Energy and Commerce, who is more moderate than 80% of his caucus. Only Pete Sessions of the Rules Committee is more conservative than the caucus of a whole.
Probably more important is who the party’s presidential nominee is. This person projects the image of a party, and if (s)he wins, chooses the national party’s leadership. President Obama is a non-extreme liberal whose multiracial background echoes a party welcoming to moderates and a growing diverse population. The latter is part of the reason there have been calls for a Marco Rubio nomination.
Since the party reforms of the 1970s, a candidate backed by the establishment hasn’t lost the nomination. Even after the anti-establishment Tea Party surge of 2010, a relatively weak Mitt Romney was able to corral the nomination thanks to establishment support.
So who is the Republican establishment apparently supporting now? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. For the time being, the “selection” of Christie suggests a Republican leadership that isn’t about to go off the deep end. It tells the story of a party leadership that wants to win the White House and will do what it thinks is necessary to win.
Christie is not currently loved by the grassroots, though as Nate Cohn points out he can likely overcome the generally inaccurate early primary polling data. On the key issues that are important to the Republican base such as abortion and gay marriage, he’s not “moderate”. Christie is certainly no liberal on taxation issues. That’s likely why the Republican leadership is backing him, when they wouldn’t do the same for former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. He’s presentable to the different parts of the Republican base when it comes down to it, even if the numbers don’t say it right now.
Still, Christie is not that conservative on the whole. Yes, Christie is pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and just vetoed gun control legislation. Abortion, however, is something most Americans are split on. Christie also signed a law banning gay conversion therapy, and he signed 10 different gun control laws recently. In other words, Christie is a kind of ideological hodgepodge. This can best be seen by looking at ideological ranking systems. This takes the subjectivity out of trying to parse out where exactly a candidate stands.
As Nate Silver did originally, you can average scores across different systems to get a good idea of where a candidate stands. In the case of Christie, he’d be the most moderate Republican candidate in the past 50 years.
Christie’s scoring on the two rankings we have available place him more toward the center than any other candidate to win a Republican nomination since 1964. Some of you might say that Christie is more conservative than these scores indicate. But it seems to me that for every issue where Christie takes a conservative stand, he takes a moderate stance. So that while he’s conservative on taxes, he’s for campaign finance reform and green energy.
The point is he’s more toward the center than previous nominees. He no doubt will move somewhat towards the right, once he wins a second term in November. Still, even a hard turn right would still leave him as relatively moderate. A Republican leadership that was looking to move more towards the right would not be interested in nominating this man or nominating the committee chairmen they are in congress. This is a party that wants to win. It’s a party leadership that at least right now is following the historical pattern of wanting to nominate a more moderate candidate, after losing the the presidential election in two consecutive cycles.
All of this point to a party that, on an electoral level, is still functioning. These are signs of a party that isn’t going away anytime soon and may win back all elected federal branches by 2016.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013
August 24, 2013Following King’s Path, and Trying to Galvanize a New Generation
By TRIP GABRIEL
WASHINGTON — Half a century after the emotional apex of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, tens of thousands of people retraced his footsteps on Saturday, and his successors in the movement spoke of the still-unmet promise of America, as he did, at the Lincoln Memorial.
The anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington was less a commemoration, speakers proclaimed, than an effort to inject fresh energy into issues of economics and justice that, despite undeniable progress in overcoming racial bias, still leave stubborn gaps between white and black Americans.
The speeches that carried over the Reflecting Pool, which 50 years ago jolted Congress to pass landmark laws, took hard aim at current racial profiling by law enforcement, economic inequality and efforts to restrict voting access.
Addressing generations too young to remember, the Rev. Al Sharpton, an organizer of Saturday’s event, warned young people against the hubris of believing one’s middle class success was achieved alone. “You got there because some unlettered grandmas who never saw the inside of a college campus put their bodies on the line in Alabama and Mississippi and sponsored you up here,” he said.
A lineup of civil rights heroes, current movement leaders, labor leaders and Democratic officials addressed a vast crowd that stretched east from the Lincoln Memorial to the knoll of the Washington Monument — well out of range of loudspeakers. Organizers expected 100,000, fewer than half the number who came in 1963 when efforts to dismantle segregation had seized the national attention, often because of racist violence in the South.
Speakers included Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who on Thursday sued Texas over a strict voter ID law; Representative John Lewis of Georgia, an organizer of the original 1963 march; and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was shot and killed last year.
“I gave blood on the bridge in Selma, Alabama, for the right to vote,” Mr. Lewis said in a deep and sonorous rumble. “I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us.”
He and many others called the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a jewel of the civil rights movement that was under attack after the high court struck down the heart of it in June, opening the way for states including Texas and North Carolina to enforce new restrictions on voting access.
Mr. Holder, receiving a roar of welcome from the crowd, said that King’s struggle must continue “until every eligible American has the chance to exercise his or her right to vote unencumbered by discrimination or unneeded procedurals, rules or practices.”
The Martin case, which led to the acquittal of a neighborhood watch volunteer in the killing last month, was also a major touchstone of the day. There were T-shirts with him in a hoodie and the acrid phrase “American Justice,” and signs urging “Support Trayvon’s Law” to repeal stand-your-ground gun measures
“We march because Trayvon Martin has joined Emmett Till in the pantheon of young black martyrs,” said Julian Bond, the social activist who attended the 1963 march.
Mazi Oyo, a 27-year-old marcher from Brooklyn, said the verdict prompted him for the first time to consider how he is perceived as a black man. Even in his diverse and upper-middle-class Park Slope neighborhood, he said, “When I go to the store late at night, I have to dress a certain way.”
Etiah Brookins, 36, a marcher from Queens, said she hoped young people drawn to the march because of Mr. Martin’s death would discover a new connection to the history of the civil rights movement.
Benjamin T. Jealous, president of the N.A.A.C.P., linked the passage in New York City on Thursday of limits to stop-and-frisk police tactics — over the strong objections of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — to the Martin case.
The program was far more inclusive than five decades ago, with many women speakers, Latinos and openly gay men and lesbians.
“When women succeed, America succeeds,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, who attended the 1963 march. She called for Congress to “make the minimum wage a living wage.”
Every persuasion of liberal politics was represented in the colorfully attired crowd, with many groups in matching T-shirts. Near the entrance to the Mall, people in Robin Hood caps held signs reading “End Racism, Heal America, Tax Wall Street.” A wiry woman energetically sang “This Little Light of Mine” next to people who called sex trafficking modern-day slavery. Others wanted to “ban the bing” — end solitary confinement.
Mr. Sharpton, who as chief organizer and president of the National Action Network gave himself the role of keynote speaker, seized the opportunity to turn up the rhetorical heat. In past decades when blacks voted for Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, George W. Bush and others, he said, the IDs they showed at polls sufficed. “Why when we get to Obama do we need some special ID?” he said to a roar of approval.
“When we leave here, we’re going to go to those states” that have passed strict photo ID laws and other restrictions like Texas and North Carolina, he said. “And when they ask us for our voter ID, take out a photo of Medgar Evers” and others “who gave their lives so we could vote,” he said. “ ‘Look at this photo. It gives you the ID of who we are.’ ”
President Obama, who is scheduled to observe the anniversary in a quieter ceremony on Wednesday at the Lincoln Memorial, and who was mentioned by many speakers as the fulfillment of King’s dream, was perhaps conspicuous by his absence. Through much of his presidency, Mr. Obama has been reluctant to frame issues in specifically racial terms, sometimes to the frustration of civil rights leaders.
Lately he has taken to reminding people that the 1963 demonstration, officially the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” was as much about fighting for economic equality. He struck the theme on Friday at a town hall-style meeting when he said minorities had made “enormous strides,” but even if all discrimination were ended, “you’d still have a situation in which there are a lot of folks who are poor, and whose families have become dysfunctional, because of a long legacy of poverty.”
His address, at the Lincoln Memorial, will fall on the exact anniversary of the original march, Aug. 28, and he will be joined by Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
The White House denied he was seeking to avoid sharing a public stage with Mr. Sharpton, a controversial figure, or other civil rights leaders, who on Saturday often portrayed the United States as a country a long way from living up to the promises of its founding fathers.
After the speeches, a procession filed past the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, then east to the Washington Monument. The route reverses the 1963 procession — when, of course, there was no King Memorial between those of the two monumental presidents.
It was Edwina Love’s second March on Washington. “I was so proud just to be here” 50 years ago, she said. “Overt racism is still prevalent,” said Ms. Love, 77, though she acknowledged great changes. A student in Greensboro, N.C., during the lunch counter sit-ins, she now eats wherever she chooses “without being disturbed,” she said. Ms. Love, who lives outside Washington, hopes the march will galvanize younger generations. “I’m going to talk to my granddaughter,” she said.
Sarah Wheaton, Jada Smith and Ashley Southall contributed reporting.
***********Rep. John Lewis at the March on Washington: ‘I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama for the right to vote’
By George Chidi
Saturday, August 24, 2013 16:58 EDT
Invoking the legacy of the bloody assault he endured in Selma, Ala., Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) used the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington to call upon Congress to fix the provisions of the Voting Rights Act invalidated earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama for the right to vote,” he said, referring to the 1965 assault by Alabama state troopers on peaceful marchers, leaving Lewis with a cracked skull and scars visible to this day. “I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us.”
The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated portions of the Voting Rights Act earlier this year, ruling that measures used by the law to determine districts requiring federal scrutiny must be updated by Congress to be constitutionally valid.
Lewis also called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. “It doesn’t make sense that millions of our people are living in the shadows,” he said. “Bring them out into the light and set them on a path to citizenship.”
Lewis was 23 and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee when he spoke to the gathered throngs 50 years ago. Of the many speakers that day, Lewis is the only one left alive.
“I’ve come back here again to say that those days, for the most part, are gone,” he said Saturday. “But we have another fight. We must stand up and fight the good fight as we march today. For there are forces, there are people who want to take us back. We can’t go back. We’ve come too far. We want to go forward.”
Watch his speech below.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYasqMFCJao&list=PLgawtcOBBjr8aZEKEzVWlqT7BZtcBvPCR
August 24, 2013Court Is ‘One of Most Activist,’ Ginsburg Says, Vowing to Stay
By ADAM LIPTAK
WASHINGTON — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 80, vowed in an interview to stay on the Supreme Court as long as her health and intellect remained strong, saying she was fully engaged in her work as the leader of the liberal opposition on what she called “one of the most activist courts in history.”
In wide-ranging remarks in her chambers on Friday that touched on affirmative action, abortion and same-sex marriage, Justice Ginsburg said she had made a mistake in joining a 2009 opinion that laid the groundwork for the court’s decision in June effectively striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The recent decision, she said, was “stunning in terms of activism.”
Unless they have a book to sell, Supreme Court justices rarely give interviews. Justice Ginsburg has given several this summer, perhaps in reaction to calls from some liberals that she step down in time for President Obama to name her successor.
On Friday, she said repeatedly that the identity of the president who would appoint her replacement did not figure in her retirement planning.
“There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president,” she said.
Were Mr. Obama to name Justice Ginsburg’s successor, it would presumably be a one-for-one liberal swap that would not alter the court’s ideological balance. But if a Republican president is elected in 2016 and gets to name her successor, the court would be fundamentally reshaped.
Justice Ginsburg has survived two bouts with cancer, but her health is now good, she said, and her work ethic exceptional. There is no question, on the bench or in chambers, that she has full command of the complex legal issues that reach the court.
Her age has required only minor adjustments.
“I don’t water-ski anymore,” Justice Ginsburg said. “I haven’t gone horseback riding in four years. I haven’t ruled that out entirely. But water-skiing, those days are over.”
Justice Ginsburg, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, said she intended to stay on the court “as long as I can do the job full steam, and that, at my age, is not predictable.”
“I love my job,” she added. “I thought last year I did as well as in past terms.”
With the departure of Justice John Paul Stevens in 2010, Justice Ginsburg became the leader of the court’s four-member liberal wing, a role she seems to enjoy. “I am now the most senior justice when we divide 5-4 with the usual suspects,” she said.
The last two terms, which brought major decisions on Mr. Obama’s health care law, race and same-sex marriage, were, she said, “heady, exhausting, challenging.”
She was especially critical of the voting rights decision, as well as the part of the ruling upholding the health care law that nonetheless said it could not be justified under Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce.
In general, Justice Ginsburg said, “if it’s measured in terms of readiness to overturn legislation, this is one of the most activist courts in history.”
The next term, which begins on Oct. 7, is also likely to produce major decisions, she said, pointing at piles of briefs in cases concerning campaign contribution limits and affirmative action.
There is a framed copy of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 on a wall in her chambers. It is not a judicial decision, of course, but Justice Ginsburg counts it as one of her proudest achievements.
The law was a reaction to her dissent in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, the 2007 ruling that said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 imposed strict time limits for bringing workplace discrimination suits. She called on Congress to overturn the decision, and it did.
“I’d like to think that that will happen in the two Title VII cases from this term, but this Congress doesn’t seem to be able to move on anything,” she said.
“In so many instances, the court and Congress have been having conversations with each other, particularly recently in the civil rights area,” she said. “So it isn’t good when you have a Congress that can’t react.”
The recent voting rights decision, Shelby County v. Holder, also invited Congress to enact new legislation. But Justice Ginsburg, who dissented, did not sound optimistic.
“The Voting Rights Act passed by overwhelming majorities,” she said of its reauthorization in 2006, “but this Congress I don’t think is equipped to do anything about it.”
Asked if she was disappointed by the almost immediate tightening of voting laws in Texas and North Carolina after the decision, she chose a different word: “Disillusioned.”
The flaw in the court’s decision, she said, was to conclude from the nation’s progress in protecting minority voters that the law was no longer needed. She repeated a line from her dissent: “It is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion, and he quoted extensively from a 2009 decision that had, temporarily as it turned out, let the heart of the Voting Rights Act survive. Eight members of the court, including Justice Ginsburg, had signed the earlier decision.
On Friday, she said she did not regret her earlier vote, as the result in the 2009 case was correct. But she said she should have distanced herself from the majority opinion’s language. “If you think it’s going to do real damage, you don’t sign on to it,” she said. “I was mistaken in that case.”
Some commentators have said that the two voting rights decisions are an example of the long game Chief Justice Roberts seems to be playing in several areas of the law, including campaign finance and affirmative action. Justice Ginsburg’s lone dissent in June’s affirmative action case, leaving in place the University of Texas’ admissions plan but requiring lower courts to judge it against a more demanding standard, may suggest that she is alert to the chief justice’s apparent strategy.
Justice Ginsburg is by her own description “this little tiny little woman,” and she speaks in a murmur inflected with a Brooklyn accent. But she is a formidable force on the bench, often asking the first question at oral arguments in a way that frames the discussion that follows.
She has always been “a night person,” she said, but she has worked even later into the small hours since her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg, a tax lawyer, chef and wit, died in 2010. Since then, she said, there is no one to call her to bed and turn out the lights.
She works out twice a week with a trainer and said her doctors at the National Institutes of Health say she is in fine health.
“Ever since my colorectal cancer in 1999, I have been followed by the N.I.H.,” she said. “That was very lucky for me because they detected my pancreatic cancer at a very early stage” in 2009.
Less than three weeks after surgery for that second form of cancer, Justice Ginsburg was back on the bench.
“After the pancreatic cancer, at first I went to N.I.H. every three months, then every four months, then every six months,” she said. “The last time I was there they said come back in a year.”
Justice Ginsburg said her retirement calculations would center on her health and not on who would appoint her successor, even if that new justice could tilt the balance of the court and overturn some of the landmark women’s rights decisions that are a large part of her legacy.
“I don’t see that my majority opinions are going to be undone,” she said. “I do hope that some of my dissents will one day be the law.”
She said that as a general matter the court would be wise to move incrementally and methodically. It had moved too fast, she said, in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. The court could have struck down only the extremely restrictive Texas law before it.
“I think it’s inescapable that the court gave the anti-abortion forces a single target to aim at,” she said. “The unelected judges decided this question for the country, and never mind that the issue was in flux in the state legislatures.”
The question of same-sex marriage is also in flux around the nation. In June, the court declined to say whether there was a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, allowing the issue to percolate further. But Justice Ginsburg rejected the analogy to the lesson she had taken from the aftermath of the Roe decision.
“I wouldn’t make a connection,” she said.
The fireworks at the end of the last term included three dissents announced from the bench by Justice Ginsburg. Such oral dissents are rare and are reserved for major disagreements.
One was a sharp attack on Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s majority opinion in a job discrimination case, and he made his displeasure known, rolling his eyes and making a face.
Justice Ginsburg said she took it in stride. “It was kind of a replay of the State of the Union, when he didn’t agree with what the president was saying” in 2010 about the Citizens United decision. “It was his natural reaction, but probably if he could do it again, he would have squelched it.”
***********Eric Holder Terrifies Republicans By Vowing to Fight For the Vote at March on Washington
By: Jason Easley
Aug. 24th, 2013
Attorney General Eric Holder sent a wave of terror through vote suppressing Republicans by vowing to fight for the right of all Americans to vote.
Eric Holder’s remarks were heavy on remembering the history of the day, and honoring those brave Americans who stood up and fought against an unjust system for their right, but he also connected yesterday for today and committed himself to protecting the vote from those who seek to take it away.
Holder said their march is our march and it must go on. Attorney General Holder said that the march must go on for gays, Latinos, African-Americans, the disabled and others. He said that we must remember all of those who stood up to racist governments and governors. The Attorney General said that without all of the people who stood up for civil rights he would not be Attorney General and Barack Obama would not be the president of the United States.
Holder said, “Today we look at the work that remains unfinished…We want this nation to be all that it was designed to be and all that it can become.”
The Attorney General said that until every eligible American has the right to vote unencumbered the struggle must go on. Holder also talked about the confrontation of special interest forces that are opposed to the common good.
As much as Attorney General Holder gets criticized by some on the left, it is clear that he and President Obama are personally committed to stopping the Republican efforts across the country to suppress the vote. Republicans are determined to take “their country back” to Jim Crow era voter suppression.
It is easy to see why Republicans both hate and fear Eric Holder. The Attorney General is committed to opposing their efforts to create a group of non-voting second class citizens. Today’s rally confirms that the election of Barack Obama wasn’t the end of the struggle for equality, but the beginning. The election of Obama unleashed a wave of racism on the right.
The message of the thousands who have come to Washington, D.C. is that they are ready to fight, and Republicans now are seeing why their efforts to suppress the vote and deny equality are destined to fail.
August 24, 2013Ignoring Qualms, Some Republicans Nurture Dreams of Impeaching Obama
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
WASHINGTON — Representative Kerry Bentivolio, a freshman Republican from Michigan, has a legislative dream. It is not to balance the federal budget, or find a way to help his ailing state or even take away money from the federal health care program, a goal that has so animated many other Republicans this summer.
Rather, Mr. Bentivolio told constituents, it is to put in motion the impeachment of President Obama. “If I could write that bill and submit it, it would be a dream come true,” he said this month.
Mr. Bentivolio may be lacking in his understanding of the technical details of the impeachment process — he has retained experts and historians to help him with that, he said — but he is hardly the only one with this desire.
While many members of Congress have used their August break to engage in conversations about immigration policy, the federal budget and the impending implementation of the Affordable Care Act, some Republicans have taken the opportunity to raise the specter of — if not quite the grounds for — presidential impeachment.
At least two other House Republicans told voters this month that the impeachment process could happen. And last week, Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who has called himself a friend of the president, told constituents that the nation was “perilously close” to an impeachment situation.
Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, lamented to one voter who asked about the prospect of impeachment that the Senate, controlled by Democrats, would probably not yield the needed votes for conviction. (This logic has not impeded Mr. Cruz from seeking to stop a short-term spending bill unless money is drained from the health care program.)
There is also a grass-roots movement in which citizens across the nation have been hanging signs on overpasses that call for impeachment.
The lawmakers have not laid out any specific charges of high crimes and misdemeanors against Mr. Obama, though the health care law and I.R.S. scrutiny of applications by conservative groups for nonprofit status seem to be among the motivating factors.
Some were also sketchy on the details of how exactly to proceed with a course that Republicans also pursued against the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton. But the movement, somewhat like the one questioning Mr. Obama’s birth certificate, appears to be a lighted match. (There is a new instruction manual, “Impeachable Offenses: The Case for Removing Barack Obama from Office” by the WABC radio host Aaron Klein and the blogger Brenda J. Elliott, that the authors plan to distribute to lawmakers.)
Mr. Obama’s supporters seem something short of terrified. “I think there are a lot of challenges ahead,” said David Axelrod, a longtime adviser to Mr. Obama. “But impeachment is not one of them.” He added: “The bottom line is that it would be enormously self-destructive for the Republicans to waste time on what is a plainly empty expression of primal, partisan rage.”
Nor does such an undertaking interest the long-suffering speaker of the House, John A. Boehner, who aides said would countenance no such effort. “Republicans are going to keep our focus on creating jobs, cutting wasteful spending and repealing Obamacare,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner, potentially dashing the dreams of Mr. Bentivolio and others who yearn to present the House impeachment case to the Senate.
Mr. Coburn’s remarks were particularly notable because the senator, while an outspoken iconoclast on fiscal issues who has pushed back against his own party on myriad issues, including taxes, has generally remained circumspect about Mr. Obama.
According to news reports, Mr. Coburn said at a town-hall-style meeting: “What you have to do is you have to establish the criteria that would qualify for proceedings against the president. And that’s called impeachment.”
Representatives for Mr. Coburn did not respond to e-mails on Friday. Neither did a spokesman for Mr. Bentivolio, nor the spokeswoman for Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas, who told constituents this month that the House “had the votes” to impeach the president.
Republicans would most likely tread carefully into territory that burned them politically in the past. “I do think that sufficient questions have been raised about the legalities of several things this administration has engaged in,” said former Representative Bob Barr of Georgia, who was a House manager during Mr. Clinton’s impeachment process and is running for Congress again.
Mr. Barr cited the postponement of the employer mandate in the health care law, “improper use of the Patriot Act” and actions on immigration as some of these potential illegalities. “I am not saying these are impeachable acts,” he said, “but they raise sufficient questions.”
Mr. Cruz suggested in an e-mail that impeachment might not be the best course of action for Republicans. “The media’s focus on impeachment is interesting,” he said. “But our best approach is to use those tools provided by the Constitution to rein in the executive, starting with the national effort to defund Obamacare.”
When President George W. Bush was in office, many liberal groups and some Democrats clamored for impeachment proceedings, largely over the Iraq war. But the House speaker at the time, Nancy Pelosi, never entertained the idea, calling it “off the table” more than once.
The issue, though, can be just the sort of red meat that constituents throw on the town hall grill when meeting with members, especially in the most conservative Congressional districts. Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a conservative former prosecutor, acknowledges that voters raise the issue with him, which he said he deflects with, “Have you met Joe Biden?” The exchange usually ends with laughter.
***************In North Carolina ‘Eligible Voter’ is Newspeak for Rich White Male Republicans
By: Adalia Woodbury
Aug. 23rd, 2013
North Carolina is an example of how quickly fascists masquerading as libertarians can turn a once progressive state into a right wing backwater. While the State’s lawmakers are enjoying a break, their minions at the local level continue the work of disenfranchising people Republicans don’t consider eligible voters.
It’s time to cut to the chase. In Republican newspeak, eligible voter is code for voters who are rich, white, male and Republican. When Republicans speak of “widespread” voter fraud, what they are really saying is votes by African Americans, Hispanics, women and the poor are “fraudulent.” That’s what happens when you let the crazy tail wag the once moderate dog.
When Colin Powell served as Secretary of State in the Bush Administration, he was well respected across party lines. In those days, bi-partisanship was possible, things got done and ideas were discussed. Negotiation meant each side gave a little to reach a compromise in the name of doing what’s best for the country.
Republicans never “forgave” Americans for electing a black man to lead the country n 2008. Since then the Republican Party became more extreme. Preaching ignorance, sexism and racism while claiming to be “good Christians” became the new normal.
Colin Powell is one of the few Republicans that you can let out in pubic and he is also one of the few Republicans worth listening to.
Powell was the keynote speaker at the CEO Forum in Raleigh North Carolina on Thursday. After the state’s governor made his opening remarks, Colin Powell smashed GOP talking points about North Carolina’s vote suppression law. According to the Raleigh News Observer, McCrory left before Colin Powell commented on the state’s vote suppression law.
Considering that Pat McCrory didn’t know what was in the law when he signed it, it’s too bad he didn’t stick around. He might have learned something about reality. He might have learned that you need to broaden your appeal beyond ignorant racists to win elections. Powell’s comments would have explained the law that McCrory signed but knew nothing about.
I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote… It immediately turns off a voting block the Republican Party needs …. These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away… You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud … How can it be widespread and undetected… What it really says to the minority voters is … We really are sort-of punishing you.
The punishment continues as Republicans at county boards of election establish additional obstacles directly aimed at young voters, especially if they are black, attend a public college or both.
The Pasquotank County Board of Elections, like all county boards in North Carolina, is controlled by Republicans. It decided Montravias King, an Elisabeth City State University student, isn’t qualified to run for city council because he lives in a dorm.
Gerry Cohen, Special Counsel to the N.C. General Assembly says the board’s decision violates settled law in North Carolina.
Montravias King filed an appeal with the state board of elections. This may be a canary in the coal mine case. If the State Board of Elections strikes down the county board’s decision, voting will still be hard for eligible voters in college, but at least they won’t be disenfranchised for living in a dorm.
If the State Board of Elections upholds the county board’s decision, the head of the county’s Republican Party will undoubtedly follow through with his announced intention to use the County Board’s decision to challenge votes by ECSU students. Moreover, other counties will likely follow Pasquotank County’s lead.
As Rachel Maddow reported on her Thursday show, students at ECSU faced challenges to their voting rights even before Republicans in North Carolina passed the most restrictive vote suppression law in the country. In 2007, a local Republican unsuccessfully challenged 18 students’ votes claiming the students didn’t really live at the college. In April 2013, hearings lasted for several hours to accommodate all the challenges to ECSU student voters.
Elisabeth City is also home to another college. Mid-Atlantic Christian College is a private school with a predominantly white student body. It’s the kind of school and students Republicans love. The college holds registration drives so that students can register to vote from school and they even shuttle students to their polling places. Rachel Maddow talked with the school’s vice president. During his seven years with the school, he doesn’t know of a single time a MAC College student’s right to vote was challenged.
In other words, Republicans in this county found it necessary to challenge votes by students at a predominantly black public college, but not the students at a predominantly white private college. It’s impossible to overlook the racial double standard. Republicans proved once again that they want voting eligibility to be determined by the amount of pigment in one’s skin, their social status and, of course, their political orientation.
Watauga County got innovative in a creepy way. Rather than risk the bad publicity that comes with making decisions that obviously violate state law, they preferred the bad publicity that comes with establishing physical obstacles to the vote. The manner by which they made this decision is even creepier because the Republican controlled board decided to make a few revisions to the minutes.
The board decided to eliminate the early voting site and Election Day voting site at another of the state’s public colleges, Appalachian State University. In fact, they decided to consolidate 3 voting precincts into one. It means that the new location, the Agriculture center, will have to accommodate 9,500 voters. Just to give you some perspective on the significance of this number, a federal directive recommended that precincts serve 1500 voters. A super precinct is defined as a precinct serving more than 2,000 voters.
This might not sound like a big deal if the chosen location at least has the resources needed to service this many voters. The Agriculture Center has 35 parking places – several of which will be used by poll workers. That may leave maybe 20 parking places to accommodate 10,000 voters. If you think voters can walk or use public transit – think again.
Public transit to what will be the third largest voting precinct in the state is non-existent. There isn’t a sidewalk. As Ashley Blevins, a student at Appalachian State University, told the Winston-Salem Journal there isn’t even space to walk next to the road.
“I don’t like this road because, as you can see, there are cars that are just, like, flying by us and there’s no space to walk next to the road,”
You would never know it if you listened to the chairman of the Watauga Elections board.
Our decision to relocate this polling place was not made lightly. In evaluating our alternatives, I considered the ease of access to the polls, the logistics involved with the various possible locations, the demands on elections staff and university staff, the handicapped accessibility of the sites, and other logistical concerns. I am confident that this location will provide an appropriate voting location, and will be an equitable and accessible polling place for all eligible voters.
Fortunately, a reporter from the Winston-Salem-Journal was at the meeting and wrote an article on lengthy and contentious discussion relating to this decision. In the final revised version of the minutes, the only thing on record about this discussion is “There was discussion by the board.” Combine that with the Chairman’s statement and you might think the Agriculture Center has more than 35 parking places, public transit can take non-drivers to their precinct, there’s a sidewalk for pedestrians to go to vote or maybe even all of the above.
Suppressing minutes of a public meeting in the name of suppressing the vote is the new reality in North Carolina. Numerous challenges to votes by students who reside in dorms at a predominantly black pubic college contrasted with no challenges of votes by students who reside in dorms at a predominantly white private college makes it abundantly clear that race is very much a part of the Republican vote suppression calculus. ”Eligible voter” is Republican newspeak for restricting the vote to rich white male Republicans. Republicans are so determined to suppress the vote one former pre-clearance county in North Carolina, they consolidated nearly 10,000 voters to vote at an out of the way, inaccessible location with 35 parking places.
It’s more than obvious that Republicans in North Carolina need the same sort of attention the DOJ is giving to Republicans in Texas.
***************Not O-KKK: How The Events in Decatur and Duncan Showcased Fox News’ Overt Racism
By: Trevor LaFauci
Aug. 24th, 2013
Oh, what a glorious week for our friends at Fox News.
With the events of the past week, Americans need to finally realize that Fox News has officially jumped the shark in its everlasting quest to be “fair and balanced” and has moved into a realm of opinions and talking points that officially echo those of David Duke and modern-day KKK members. As the nation moves toward a majority minority population in roughly forty years, Fox News continues to present its news in a manner that clearly showcases its inherent disdain for any person that doesn’t need sunscreen in the summer to acquire a healthy tan. This past week has been especially gruesome for Fox News and has showcased the network’s true colors. Or, color, we should say.
The network made an across-the-board decision to portray the Christopher Lane murder in Duncan, Oklahoma as racially motivated despite the fact that one of the murders happened to be White. Everyone’s favorite racist, Pat Buchanan, who maintains a high-profile job at the network despite his known bigotry, chimed in on the story and remarked that the cause of the violence was clearly the rap, hip-hop, and violent movies that are prevalent in the Black community. The Fox and Friends morning team wondered why Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton hadn’t responded to the murder as if they only came out and defended African American victims and not White (albeit foreign) ones. Fox News even had White House correspondent Ed Henry ask about the Lane’s murder “apparently by three African-American young men”.
Apparently, Ed doesn’t need “facts” to convey the Fox News narrative.
Roughly nine-hundred and thirty miles east, another event unfolded last week that gave fodder to the Fox News team. Michael Brandon Hill, a twenty-year-old male came into the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur with a loaded AK-47, causing the entire school to be evacuated. Hill shot into the floor and exchanged gunfire with officers who had surrounded the school before he eventually turned himself in. Photographs released from the scene showed students from the diverse student body all outside and scared for their lives. It was a scene that definitely left chills for anyone who was there to experience it.
And yet, Fox News had slightly different coverage for this event.
Pat Buchanan did not come on to talk about any issues or statistics of White on Black violence. The Fox and Friends morning team did not clamor for any well-known White civil rights protectors to come down to Decatur and defend Hill. Ed Henry did not raise the issue to the White House press secretary team. Fox News was suspiciously silent on the issue of gun access and mental health for some odd reason. And yet, they still had an out. There was brave Antoinette Tuff, the bookkeeper who ended up intervening and kept Hill calm while on the phone with a 911 operator. Here she was, a woman of faith, in the deeply red state of Georgia. Of course Fox News would portray her and share her heroic story to the world. And yet, they didn’t.
Because Antoinette Tuff is Black.
You see, the Duncan and Decatur stories don’t fit the Fox News narrative that all Black people are scary and evil while all White people are harmless and good. This is the narrative that controls their programming. It’s the narrative that appeals to the Fox News viewer who averages sixty-five years of age. The viewer who explicitly believes it truly is an us versus them world out there and that they (read: White people) and their way of life are constantly under attack. It’s the same narrative the NRA uses when it sells guns. Does Wayne LaPierre realize what stopped a bad man with a gun in Georgia? It was a good person with a kind heart telling this troubled young man that she cared about him. It wasn’t a person with an AK-47 behind her library desk.
The problem is that each and every story like this showcases Fox News for what they truly are: racist and bigoted. You can only craft a narrative for so long before you start to believe it. Whether it’s Oprah’s “made up” story of being racially profiled in Switzerland or Trayvon Martin’s “thuggish” appearance, Fox News has intentionally portrayed those people of color as being inherently inferior to the White race. They might not be burning crosses on lawns, but what Fox News is doing is essentially much worse. It’s denigrating an entire segment of the population in order to score cheap political points.
Fox News will only get worse with its racist, bigoted coverage of race-related events. It will continue to coverage news in this way to continue to feed into the fears of its old, White, and mostly male audience who still believe that some of the “darkies” can be scary and shouldn’t be integrating with us White folk. This pattern will continue unless Americans begin to call out Fox News and finally call a spade a spade.
Fox News is a White supremacy network.
***************Ted Cruz Channels Sarah Palin and Offers Republicans A Sure Path to Defeat
By: Sarah Jones
Aug. 24th, 2013
In New Hampshire Friday evening, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) raised alarm bells with a smirk that looks uncomfortably reminiscent of fellow East coast elite pretend Texan and former President George W Bush’s and an agenda that mirrors Sarah Palin’s 2010 agenda.
Watch here and try not to spit your afternoon bevvie out when you read “Road to the White House” as the C-Span tag:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taVnS3N_J3E
Cruz went Palin, urging the base not to “blink” as they forge ahead on sure failure by defunding ObamaCare. “Listen, the plan to defund ObamaCare has been called deceptive, deceitful, nuts, crazy, stupid and wacko. And that’s just by Republicans. You want to know how we win? Don’t blink.”
This wasn’t unintentional, as the freshman Senator later joked, “I’m pretty sure that you can actually see Canada from here.” We’ll see if Cruz can dumb himself down enough to replace Palin as the Tea Party standard bearer. I’m not convinced yet, although I did catch some W on his face– Cruz has almost the exact same smirk.
Cruz got a long standing ovation when he demanded we abolish the IRS, saying the federal government has too much power (of course he prefaced this with an ode to Obama being corrupt). No word on how the deficit would fare under that plan, or how we would pay for the military or homeland security once Cruz got his way with the IRS, but this is the Republican Party, so of course, no one asked him about reality. He fearmongered about the debt, and never told the audience that the deficit is decreasing rapidly under Obama.
The Texas Republican continued, “You know, there are a lot of people in the media that say, ‘Anyone who was elected with support of the Tea Party – those guys are radical – they are extreme. I have to admit, I have to chuckle a bit. It is only in Washington D.C. that it’s considered radical to want to live within your means. It is only in the United States Capitol that it is considered extreme not to want to bankrupt our kids and grandkids.”
Then, one of the most divisive Senators in D.C. fed the ultimate Kool-Aid to his audience, suggesting that Obama was going to give them another Reagan. (Any guesses on who is going to play Reagan in this scenario? Hint: Sarah Palin thought she was going to be Reagan II.) He said, “You know, it took Jimmy Carter to give us Ronald Reagan. And I am convinced that the most longest lasting legacy of President Obama is going to be all of us standing up together, arm-in-arm, to restore that shining city on a hill that is the United States of America.”
Cruz confirmed his deliberate misunderstanding of the Constitution by telling saying that he thinks the GOP is poised to take back the Senate in 2014. “I think 2014 presents very favorable terrain for Republicans. I believe 2014 is teed up for Republicans to take control of the Senate and retire Harry Reid as the majority leader.”
Cruz has been lying to the base, telling them that they can only impeach Obama if they get control of the Senate, which of course is not true. Impeachment happens from the House, which Republicans have control over.
While the NBC version of Cruz’s Presidential Pandering was steeped in admiration, conveniently quoting Tea Party admirers fawning over Cruz’s conservative self (apparently we need to redefine conservative to mean radical and nihilistic), not everyone was so impressed by the hubristic freshman Senator.
Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, told the Dallas News, “I’ve been profoundly disappointed. I expected so much more from him. Somebody like him could be leading the Republican Party toward a future, and instead … he’s been pandering. He’s been pandering to the basest impulses of the base.”
Not to worry, we are told by conservatives that even though Cruz is not really American since he’s a dual citizen, Canada isn’t really foreign like, say, Africa is. They can’t quite put their finger on why…
Pandering to the basest impulses of the base, did you say? Oh, gosh, no. Smirk. Cruz is not only a Real American, but just like W, a real Texan.
He’s only been a Senator for eight months, and during that tenure his own party hasn’t been very impressed with his lack of curiosity about his actual job, but Cruz thinks he already knows enough to be President. Cruz has now toured the first three presidential primary states with his map to GOP failure, proving that birth certificates, citizenship, and freshman status as a Senator only matter if you are black.
The Ted Cruz plan for winning is to go even more extreme, and pander to the lowest common denominator. This ends today’s episode of the Incredibly Shrinking GOP Tent.
August 24, 2013 03:30 PMKY Gov Praise of Obamacare Leaves McConnell, Rand Dumbfounded
By Nicole Belle
Lord love Democratic Governor of Kentucky Steve Beshear. Speaking to a crowd of Kentucky voters at a fundraising breakfast, Beshear took the opportunity to praise the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) to the overwhelming support of the audience and take subtle jabs at those who were opposing Obamacare, which include Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul who were also attending.
Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, also attending, weren’t expecting the onslaught. Jill Lawrence reported, “It was not what anyone expected—least of all Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, who sat stone-faced onstage with Beshear as he unloaded on them without using names.”
Beshear finished with a stab to the heart of GOP’s NoCare, no alternative. “It’s amazing to me how people who are pouring time and money and energy into trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act sure haven’t put that kind of energy into trying to improve the health of Kentuckians,” according to the National Journal.
Ouch. That had to hurt Mitch McConnell especially, who is in a serious fight to retain his seat against challenger Alison Grimes. The National Journal reports that Beshear got very pointed with his criticism:
The governor compared health insurance to "the safety net of crop insurance" and said farmers need both. He said 640,000 Kentuckians—15 percent of the state—don't have health insurance and "trust me, you know many of those 640,000 people. You're friends with them. You're probably related to them. Some may be your sons and daughters. You go to church with them. Shop with them. Help them harvest their fields. Sit in the stands with them as you watch your kids play football or basketball or ride a horse in competition. Heck, you may even be one of them."
Beshear went on to say that "it's no fun" hoping and praying you don't get sick, or choosing whether to pay for food or medicine. He also said Kentucky is at or near the top of the charts on bad-health indicators, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer deaths, and preventable hospitalizations. He said all that affects everything from productivity and school attendance to health costs and the state's image.
"We've ranked that bad for a long, long time," he said. "The Affordable Care Act is our historic opportunity to address this weakness and to change the course of the future of the commonwealth. We're going to make insurance available for the very first time in our history to every single citizen of the commonwealth of Kentucky."
THIS is what I want to see Democrats doing as we near the 2014 mid-terms. Be unapologetic. Put the Democratic agenda in human terms everyone can understand. Push Republicans back on their heels and force them to defend their record.
Take note, Democrats. This is how you do it.