Barack Obama

President Obama drops refugee truth bomb on GOP in epic Twitter storm

President Obama drops refugee truth bomb on GOP in epic Twitter storm

(Credit: AP/Susan Walsh)


For the third day this week, President Obama finds himself waging a one-man battle against mass hysteria and misinformation in the wake of the Paris attack.

On Monday, the president battled a hostile American media at a G20 press conference in Turkey before delivering this powerful rebuke of his GOP critics who’ve used the attacks to scapegoat Syrian refugees:

When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who is fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful, that’s not American, that’s not who we are.

By Monday night, 34 American governors had declared their states Syrian refugee free zones, publicly calling for a ban on all refugees from the war torn region. On Tuesday, President Obama was, again, forced to call out such hyperbolic measures during a stop in the Philippines:

I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate. ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there is a war between Islam and the West.


When you start seeing individuals in positions of responsibility suggesting that Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative … It’s counterproductive, and it needs to stop.


When candidates say, we wouldn’t admit three-year-old orphans — that’s political posturing. When individuals say that we should have a religious test and that only Christians — proven Christians — should be admitted — that’s offensive and contrary to American values.

By Wednesday, at least two GOP lawmakers had called for Syrian refugees to be “segregated” into special “camps” and the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, seemingly positively invoked Japanese internment camps during WWII to defend his decision to ban war refugees from his city limits.

Of course, there are legal limitations to such proposals, but many elected officials, clearly unaware or unbothered by the legal constraints, have only increased their calls for extralegal action against Syrian refugees. Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul has even called for ending all U.S. aid to Syrian refugees as millions remain displaced.

So, President Obama’s former Ebola Czar (remember that little period of mass hysteria?) recently laid out a path to combat some of the rampant misinformationabout Syrian refugees using best practices from his time quelling Ebola fears. Ron Klain suggested that officials not mock concerns, but rather address them with the cold hard facts. On Wednesday night, the president, who belatedly joined Twitter in May, took to the social media network in an attempt to do just that:

Bristol Palin Sheds Last Ounce Of Decency, Says Obama’s Invitation To Ahmed Mohamed Is Racist



That’s it…I’m so done with Bristol Palin and her mom!


If there is one thing Bristol Palin has learned from her mom, it’s to never waste an opportunity to bash President Obama, no matter how far-fetched the reasoning. This week, her never ending quest to attack the president at the expense of making an ass of herself took the form of dismissing the plight a 14-year-old boy who just excitedly accepted an invitation to go to the White House.

Like many conservatives, Palin seemed to have little interest in standing up for Ahmed Mohamed, a scientifically-minded Muslim kid from Texas who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school to show his engineering teacher. In this age, where every news story is quickly divided into political camps, Obama struck first and quickly supported Ahmed and extended an offer to have the boy and his clock come to the White House.

It was the obvious reaction to hearing about a kid being mistreated by the people who are supposed to be encouraging him. Unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way. As is so often the case, conservatives immediately took the opposite side just because. Some defended the police and school. Others suggested Ahmed intentionally got himself arrested to make conservatives look bad. And Bristol Palin decided that Obama was being racist against white people.

This is the kind of stuff Obama needs to STAY out of. This encourages more racial strife that is already going on with the “Black Lives Matter” crowd and encourages victimhood.

The police made a mistake, clearly.

But why put more people against them? Why egg it on?  Childish games like this from our president have divided our country…  even more today than when he was elected.

It’s a telling reaction: When most people hear of a child being placed in handcuffs, threatened with expulsion, and exposed to racism at the hands of police, they sympathize with the child. Bristol’s immediate concern is for the officers.

Also, “something something Black Lives Matter.” Because while Obama never brought up race or religion, Palin seems to think that standing with a Muslim boy who was wrongfully arrested is an anti-Christian, anti-white statement that will cause “more racial strife.” No, not the racial strife against minorities, the kind that actually exists (particularly in Texas). She means “reverse-racism.”

By slamming the president for what many people agreed was a very nice gesture to support a kid who had just been through a terrible experience, Palin is dismissing his injustice. In her mind, better Ahmed’s plight never be spoken of, lest the Irving, Texas police officers get their feelings hurt.

But while Palin may act surprised, Obama’s reaction shouldn’t come as a shock to many people who have been following his presidency. For years, Obama has stressed the importance of kids getting interested in science and technology. At the 2015 White House Science Fair, Obama pledged $240 million for STEM education programs, and spoke passionately about kids staying curious.

“. . . these young scientists and engineers teach us something beyond the specific topics that they’re exploring.  They teach us how to question assumptions; to wonder why something is the way it is, and how we can make it better.  And they remind us that there’s always something more to learn, and to try, and to discover, and to imagine — and that it’s never too early, or too late to create or discover something new.”

Ahmed is exactly the kind of kid Obama was talking about. To stand by and watch him be bullied out of his interest in science by prejudiced police officers and teachers would be contrary to everything that Obama has spent years striving for.

Sadly, Palin’s reaction is no more surprising. Her toxic anti-Obama hackery has gotten to the point where no decency – even when it comes to the bullying of a child – remains.

Thanks, Obama! Jobless Claims Drop to 42-Year Low

attribution: None


Oops, he did it again!

“Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 255,000 for the week ended July 18, the lowest level since November 1973,the Labor Department said on Thursday.”

Now keep in mind that the unemployment benefit claims in number of applicants is at the lowest level in 41-and-a-half years, which, given the fact that the labor force has grown considerably in that time, is phenomenally impressive. The 4-week moving average (a key marker since it tends to eliminate the week-to-week spikes and lows) has stayed under 300,000 for 17 straight weeks, indicating more good jobs news is coming when the July jobs report is released.

Here is how jobless claims have dropped since the Bush great recession was handed over to President Obama to manage, end, and pull the country back from.

Bloomberg provides the big picture on Barack Obama’s record on jobs.

And here is how the initial and 8-week moving averages have looked since President Obama was sworn in for a second term.

Chart credit: Pantheon Economics.

Add that feather to President Obama’s cap that the economy has added 200,000+ jobs for 14 of the last 16 months, dropping the unemployment rate to 5.3%, just above the 5.2% considered to be full employment by Fed officials, not to mention the US is on its longest ever expansion of private sector employment.

It looks like that job killing Barack Obama is just intent on taking us from utter disaster to full employment in less than seven years. This is so inconvenient for talking points!

“OK, so what would convince you that racism is real?”

Darren Wilson, Donald Sterling, Dylann Roof, Cliven Bundy, Michael Slager (Credit: Reuters/AP)


I don’t hang out with white people I need to educate about white privilege. And then I started dating one

One of the pleasures of getting older and making a living the way you want to is that your social circle becomes rarefied and the people who enter have been vetted. When I was in my 20s, shady-ass characters routinely found their way into my life and my apartment. With some regularity, friends revealed themselves as liars, or misogynists, or big Master P fans, and I stopped fucking with them.

Nowadays, that never happens. My whole crew is rock-solid, and anybody I meet through any of them comes pre-certified; I might not love them, but I can take for granted that they aren’t going to ransack my house or pop some foul shit.

A related fact is that I don’t really fuck with that many white people these days. Not for a white person, anyway. And those I do fuck with tend to be 1) predominantly Jewish but totally secular, 2) hip-hop heads and practitioners since Bushwick Bill had depth perception, and 3) decades deep in their critical analysis of white privilege and structural racism, which was a process that was not optional if you were a white hip-hop kid growing up in the era of Brand Nubian and X-Clan and BDP. You probably know some of these people if you’re reading this, because they’re all writers and artists and musicians – Danny Hoch, Kevin Coval, Joe Schloss, J. Period, Dan Charnas, Blake Lethem, Jon Shecter. That type of dude.

This is a minuscule cohort, invisible on the national radar, but for all intents and purposes it’s the sum total of my white community. I don’t know any of the white people who keep showing up in all those incredibly depressing studies and statistics—the ones that reveal a typical white person’s “real life social network” is 1 percent black, or that a majority of whites in this country believe “anti-white bias” is a bigger problem than racism, or that less than half of whites believe the grand juries should have indicted the killer cops in Ferguson or Staten Island, or that Barack Obama lost the white vote in both 2008 and 2012.

I didn’t look any of that up just now; I keep facts like this handy because I’m a dude who speaks about race and whiteness and politics in public sometimes and I like to stay strapped. But I’ve constructed a life and a career that keeps me completely isolated from those white people — “real” white people. I don’t even have awkward Thanksgiving conversations with some crotchety old-fuck uncle who thinks the president is a secret Muslim.

I did, however, become single and start dating last summer, for the first time since Bill Clinton was in office. I met a girl I really liked. I’ll call her Jessie. She was gorgeous, she was smart, and she liked to talk shit. She lived in Queens but I met her at a literary festival in Jamaica. We watched Prodigy from Mobb Deep get bumrushed onstage by a drunken local whom the crowd liked more, and then we stayed up all night, blah blah blah. It didn’t occur to me, not for one second, that her politics or her race consciousness or whatever might be different than mine, because I had met her. Even though she was from a tiny town in Oregon and had grown up in a mega-Christian family. After all, she’d renounced that shit and moved to New York and she liked me.

Then Mike Brown got murdered and Jessie couldn’t understand the rush to condemn Darren Wilson. This wasn’t part of a pandemic of police violence against black men to her; these were individuals and we didn’t know what had happened and we shouldn’t make assumptions and most cops weren’t necessarily racist, most cops just reacted to the situations they were in, the experiences they’d had, and if those experiences led them to assume that black men should be treated as threats, who were we to question that?  She’d served two weeks on a grand jury and all the gun case defendants had been black, and what did that tell you? Those were facts. She’d beenthere.

We almost broke up that night. I stood on the street outside her crib, an incredibly heavy duffel bag on my shoulder, and argued my motherfucking ass off for two and half hours. I happen to be really good at arguing, for reasons I’m not necessarily proud of, reasons that date back to early childhood and contributed heavily to my nascent singleness. Though being really good at arguing is also how I got through high school and college without studying that much. Marshaling some shit KRS-ONE said in a song and using it to bludgeon a history teacher was my basic educational M.O. for about six years.

I told Jessie that she was ignoring the empirical in favor of the anecdotal, and what a fraught and dangerous path that was. I tried to get her to understand how intensely personal this was for me, how unjust policing and trials and sentencing had destroyed friends’ lives and compromised our entire generation.  We did history and anthropology and philosophy.  It was heated and intense and the angrier I get the better I argue. Eventually I felt good enough about where we’d gotten, the progress we’d made, to go upstairs and sleep with her.

But it wasn’t really OK. We kept talking about it. Jessie admitted freely that she’d never really grappled with this shit and expressed a beautifully sincere desire to try. Pretty soon she was telling her father on the phone about the endemic racism of the police, and getting excited about engaging all the white people she knew back home — the kind she’d been herself a few weeks earlier. She felt like she knew how to get through to them, how to create empathy and understanding and break down fear and hatred.

The thing was, her impulses were still her impulses; her frame was still her frame. Even now that she was righteously indignant and eager to proselytize, every discussion began with her eliding the ubiquity of structural racism, refusing to see how it undergirded whatever situation we were parsing. She focused on anything and everything else, with a fervor I knew all too well, and I’d bombard her with statistics, or point out that the very categories she chose to create were grounded in the normalization of whiteness, or I’d have to create elaborate hypothetical scenarios to illustrate the limitations of, say, a black person’s ability to prevent himself from being profiled by police. She hadn’t read anything. She didn’t know who Emmett Till was. Or James Baldwin. She listened to a lot of hip-hop, but — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — that means nothing in 2014.

I felt confused and compromised, being with her. On one hand, I was introducing Jessie to all this radical race shit (radical only on the spectrum of white American politics, but still) and seeing her get a decent amount of it — even if the process wore me out. On the other hand, I was with somebody who didn’t get radical race shit, somebody who never would have made her way past the gatekeepers and into my little precious elitist smartypants cool white kid circles. And on the third hand, I had become (as my friend Sheila Heti writes) one of those insufferable men who want to teach a woman something.

Jessie kept telling me how much good I could do by talking to the kind of people she grew up with, and I kept saying I wasn’t interested in chopping it up with any hunkered-down white racists, that I’d had my fill of that 10 years earlier when I published “Angry Black White Boy.” She kept being disappointed in my refusal, my weariness, my cynicism in thinking those people wouldn’t change based on anything I said, my arrogance in acting like I had better shit to do.

Continue reading this essay here>>>



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Iraq War Supporters Run For The Hills




Among the prominent Iraq War figures TPM contacted: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan, Douglas J. Feith, Bill Kristol, Scooter Libby, Peter Feaver, Bruce Jackson, and Stephen Cambone. They all either declined to comment or did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.

“They’re in their foxholes and they don’t want to say things, because they’re all sort of positioning to engage these candidates, be in the inner circle for these candidates,” said Shawn Brimley, executive vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security who previously served on Obama’s National Security Council staff.

It was not too long ago, however, that many of the voices that initially cheered the Bush administration towards war were still loudly defending the decision.

Kristol, a neoconservative commentator who now is the editor of The Weekly Standard, told CNN last June he would not apologize for supporting the war, as it was the “right thing to do and necessary and just thing to do.” Likewise, Rumsfeld said in 2013 it would have been “immoral” not to invade Iraq. Former Vice President Dick Cheney also said last summer he had no regrets when asked about the decision.

Jeb Bush has tapped a number of members of his brother’s administration to advise him on foreign policy, including Wolfowitz, making Jeb’s grappling with the issue particularly awkward.

Republicans are “finally having the reckoning that is long overdue on the issue of Iraq,” according to Brimley.

“The silver lining for the Republicans is that it’s good that this reckoning is happening now, potentially very early in the primary,” Brimley said.

Still, a few Iraq defenders have emerged from the woodwork in recent days. John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Bush, said unequivocally that the decision to invade Iraq was the correct one.

Other hawks have danced around the intel heralded at the time — that Iraq was in possession of WMDs. They argue that was to blame.

“I think that most of the Republicans would say no — that the proximate cause of the invasion was the intel about WMDs. And had that intel not been there, we would’ve tried to get the no-fly zone going and the sanctions going,” Elliott Abrams, a former national security adviser in the Bush administration, told Bloomberg.

Michael Rubin, a Pentagon official during the Bush years, also said in an email to TPM that President Bush’s decision was justified by the intelligence available to him at the time. He added, “Reconstruction, redevelopment, and lengthy occupation both in Afghanistan and Iraq were mistakes. We have little to show for our efforts in either. The Washington model of throwing money at problems doesn’t work in the Middle East.”

Jim Hanson, executive vice president at the Center for Security Policy — which is led by Frank Gaffney, one of the most vocal Iraq War advocates — said judging a position on the Iraq War by what is known now is “unfair” and a “ complete cop out.”

“You don’t get to make decisions in hindsight. You take the best available intelligence and you make the best decision you can at that point in time,” he said. “Hindsight is not a part of the game, so I think it’s an unfair question to ask.”

Richard Perle, another prominent figure from the pre-invasion days, defended the 2003 decision in an interview with Huffington Post last week: “The evidence is strong enough and the cost of standing down would be not delaying for a week or two, but essentially abandoning the capacity.”

But some of the Iraq War’s biggest cheerleaders just wanted to move away from the argument entirely.

“Our collective intellectual efforts would be much better employed trying to understand how to manage the wars and threats we face now — none of which are going well — than continuing to rehash an argument we’ve been having for more than a decade,” Fred Kagan, once a promoter of the Iraq War who is now a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told TPM in an email.

Prominent Iraq War critics were not surprised.

“Clearly it was one of the largest blunders the U.S. has ever made in its foreign policy history,” said Paul Pillar, a former CIA counterintelligence official. “We still have much cognitive dissonance among those who promoted the war who have had a hard time recognizing that. If we are getting silence from neocons, it’s because they don’t have anything plausible to say in defense of the decision.”

Last Monday, Bush told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that, even knowing what is known now, he supported his brother’s decision to invade Iraq and his Republican rivals were quick to pounce. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) lined up against Bush, arguing that at least in retrospect, the decision to intervene in Iraq was a mistake.

Meanwhile, Bush recalibrated his position a few more times, before settling on an opinionThursday that, “I would have not engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.”

The issue of Iraq is unlikely to go away for Republicans.

“By virtue of who Secretary Clinton is — and she is the presumptive nominee, I would assume, on the Democratic side — they’re going to have to run at her on national security and foreign policy,” Brimley said. “Does being hawkish on foreign policy mean having to embrace all of the hawkish elements of the George W. Bush- kind of legacy? They’re struggling with this right now.”

Tellingly, Rubio — who counts Abrams and former Dick Cheney aide Eric Edelman among his advisors — has flipped again on the issue, arguing Sunday to Fox News’ Chris Wallace that “the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein doesn’t run Iraq.”

When pressed whether the decision was a mistake knowing Hussein didn’t have WMDs, Rubio still wouldn’t say that President Bush made the wrong decision. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who is mulling a presidential run, also said Saturday that Bush made the correct decision given what was known then. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is also expected to announce his White House candidacy next month, conceded Monday, “If I [knew] then what I know now, a land invasion may not have been the right answer,” but said the war was not a mistake and blamed Obama for withdrawing troops in 2011.

“We have somewhat similar debate going on right now with Iran — the fact that having a nuclear program doesn’t by itself constitute a case to do any one thing — to go to war, to negotiate or whatever,” Pillar said. “You have to argue the pros and cons.”

According to Pillar, the broader back-and-forth proves that we “are still stuck in the framework that the war promoters in the Bush administration gave us,” in that perceived threat alone justifies an invasion.


Obama and Bill Nye rip climate deniers in Congress using ‘I’m not a scientist’ excuse

President Barack Obama interviews 'Science Guy' Bill Nye in a video released by the White House on April 24, 2015. [YouTube]

President Barack Obama interviews ‘Science Guy’ Bill Nye in a video released by the White House on April 24, 2015. [YouTube]

 The Raw Story

President Barack Obama asked “Science Guy” Bill Nye how to promote science education in a video released by the White House on Friday, while also taking a shot at lawmakers who have argued against the existence of climate change.

“When I see members of Congress being part of the climate-denier clubs and basically stiff-arming what we know are facts — and not rebutting them with other facts but rebutting them with anecdote or just being dismissive,” Obama said before Nye interjected.

“‘Oh, I’m not a scientist,’” Nye said, sarcastically repeating a common conservative argument against the phenomenon.

“I’m not a scientist, either, but I know a lot of scientists,” Obama replied. “I have the capacity to understand science. The capacity to look at facts and base my conclusions on evidence. Part of shifting our political culture I think, is we’ve gotta model for our kids that facts matter.”

Nye also encouraged the president to promote “science every day in every grade,” calling it a huge opportunity.

“Teaching science [at] elementary level is very inexpensive,” he said. “We fight these surprising problems about reading and arithmetic and standards problems and so on, it seems like a very solvable problem. We have to invest in the elementary grades.”

“Part of it is also, I think, our culture has to support and elevate science,” Obama said, adding, “Sometimes what we see in the popular culture is, if not a denigration then not an emphasis on science.”

Nye told CNN before the video was posted that the White House asked him to join Obama in the Florida Everglades to film the video.

“[Obama] knows I’m like-minded when it comes to the environment,” Nye said. “He didn’t bring in Marc Morano or somebody like that. I think it’s cool.”

Morano, who has been featured on Fox News on several occasions, is a blogger whose parent organization, Climate Depot, has ties to the oil industry. On Wednesday, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld argued that global warming was a trumped-up threat because the president and the former TV host flew there on Air Force One.

Watch Obama’s discussion with Nye, as posted by the White House on Friday, below.

Obama, Castro spoke by phone ahead of Panama summit


Panama City (CNN)President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro spoke by phone Wednesday before leaving Washington for the President’s trip to Jamaica and Panama, a White House official told CNN on Friday.

Obama was set to meet face-to-face with Castro on Friday, the first time the leaders have interacted since their nations agreed to renew diplomatic relations after half-a-century of enmity.

Obama arrived in Panama late Thursday to his third Summit of the Americas, a large gathering of Latin American leaders that in years past was tinged with animosity at Cuba’s exclusion. Moments after Marine One, Obama’s helicopter, touched down in Panama City, Castro’s plane landed on the same tarmac. Panamanian television carried both arrivals live.

Details of Wednesday’s phone call were not immediately available Friday.

This year, Obama was expecting a warmer welcome from the dozens of countries represented at the conference, after announcing in December he was seeking to engage Havana in talks over reopening embassies and removing barriers to commerce and travel.

READ: Obama to test engagement doctrine with Cuba

In Panama, Obama is expected to announce he’s removing Cuba from the United States’ list of countries that sponsor terrorism, a major advance in building diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The State Department delivered its report on the designation to the White House on Wednesday; Obama said on Thursday a panel of experts was reviewing it before he makes a final determination.

But in remarks during a brief stopover in Jamaica, he strongly hinted he was ready to remove Cuba from the list, which also includes Iran, Sudan and Syria.

“Throughout this process, our emphasis has been on the facts,” Obama said. “So we want to make sure that given that this is a powerful tool to isolate those countries that genuinely do support terrorism, that when we make those designations we’ve got strong evidence that, in fact, that’s the case.”

“As circumstances change, then that list will change as well,” he said.

While some inside Cuba have expressed dissatisfaction at the pace of the diplomatic thaw, U.S. officials insist they’re pleased at the progress toward re-establishing diplomatic ties, which the White House argues has helped improve relations with other countries in the region.

Obama said in Jamaica he “never foresaw that immediately overnight everything would transform itself.”

The summit meetings Friday and Saturday will mark the first time Cuba participates in the conference, which takes place every three years. At the two Obama previously attended, in Trinidad and Colombia, reception toward the U.S. delegation was icy.

“We felt it was long overdue and takes a huge irritant out of our policy in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Roberta Jacobson, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs who’s led talks with Cuba re-establishing diplomatic ties.

The overtures to Cuba have not been universally popular in the United States; some lawmakers were irate that Obama was seeking to engage what they regard as a corrupt government.

Obama was planning to meet in Panama with Cuban dissidents, some of whom were violently accosted earlier this week by supporters of the Castro regime.

By Alexandra Jaffe and Elise Labott, CNN

Pastor Who Spoke At Rand Launch: We Don’t Yet Know Obama’s ‘Real Religion’



I wonder how much he got paid to say that.  I’m sure all speeches go past Rand Paul or his aids first, so one could surmise that Paul espouses this guy’s train of thought…

TPM LiveWire

“In five years we’ll find out what [Obama’s] real religion is,” Rev. Jerry Stephenson told reporters after the event, according to Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins.

Stephenson, a Louisville-based preacher, voiced his discontent with the Democratic Party in 2010 and then embraced the tea party movement, as well as then-Senate candidate Paul. He’d been discussing the issue of religious freedom after Paul’s presidential announcement when a radio interviewer pressed him to explain his belief that Obama wasn’t supporting conservative Christians, according to Coppins’ report.

Asked to expand on the comment about the Obama’s “real religion,” Stephenson explained that he didn’t believe Obama had been friendly toward Christians.

“Once he’s out, he will ‘evolve’ like he did on gay marriage,” the pastor added, according to Coppins. “I just believe that’s what he will do.”

Stephenson declined to say how he believed the President’s faith would evolve.

Ted Cruz is Trying and Failing to Weasel Out of His Obamacare Duplicity


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) | Attribution: none

Note: As other GOP Presidential candidates announce their intention to run, TFC will have less news on Ted Cruz.

Sen. Ted Cruz was the first candidate to announce his intention to run for the presidency, hence the incessant coverage from all news outlets…

Daily Banter

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is a master at what Al Franken used to call “weasel words” — talking points that are carefully constructed to sound legitimate but really aren’t at all. Come to think of it, Stephen Colbert famously referred to this sort of thing as “truthiness.” Cruz is especially on his game when the topic of the complicated Affordable Care Act comes up because even top-shelf reporters don’t quite grasp all of the ins and outs of Obamacare and, frankly, the administration hasn’t been very strong at educating the public about what the law covers. And Cruz is exploiting every square mile of this supercolossal Obamacare ignorance gap.

For the last two days or so, Ted Cruz has repeatedly said that 1) as a member of the Senate, he’s required to have an Obamacare policy, 2) in spite of this requirement he was on his wife’s insurance policy until just recently, and 3) Congress is exempt from Obamacare because of an illegal move by the president. So, Obamacare is mandatory now, but it wasn’t before, and it’s actually not any more because of the allegedly “illegal” Obama exemption.

On Wednesday, Cruz sat down with a reporter from an outfit called The Daily Signal and delivered this troika of nonsense once again.

1) First, Cruz again described how for two years he’s been on his wife’s insurance — not an apparently mandatory congressional Obamacare plan.

When I announced the campaign, my wife also decided to take an unpaid leave of absence from her job. We have been for the past couple of years covered on my wife’s health insurance. When she took an unpaid leave of absence, it means that she’s also losing her benefits. And so we’re gonna do what anyone else would do, which is take their health insurance from their employer. So, in all likelihood, we’ll go on the exchange.

2) After discussing so-called “Obama subsidies,” Cruz then described why Obamacare is a requirement for members of Congress.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley introduced an amendment to Obamacare that said members of Congress have to be on the exchanges with no subsidies just like millions of Americans.

So, the “amendment” stipulates that members “have to be on the exchanges with no subsidies.” When he first mentioned this to CNN’s Dana Bash on Tuesday, he said it was “one of the great things about Obamacare.” Then why is he still not on the exchange? It’s because members of Congress really don’t “have to” use Obamacare — unless they choose employer-based health insurance from the government. If they do, the government’s plan is now the exchange rather than the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. If members and staffers don’t want employer coverage, they can buy a plan directly from a provider or go without insurance. On top of all that, there’s absolutely nothing in the Affordable Care Act that says Congress isn’t permitted to receive subsidies or premium-sharing. Nothing. Cruz lied.

3) Next, even though he said he plans to follow the law (he hasn’t for two years now, but okay) which he claims features an Obamacare requirement, he goes on to say that Congress doesn’t have to use Obamacare after all because the White House carved out an exemption for Congress.

Now, Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats when this passed were horrified. They didn’t wanna be under Obamacare. They went to Obama and said, “Give us a special exemption.” And Barack Obama did, and his administration ignored the plain text of the statute and created an illegal exemption. I have no intention of using that illegal exemption. I’m gonna follow the law.

Inexplicably, he wants viewers to think Congress is no longer mandated to be on Obamacare (it never was) — that Congress has an “illegal” waiver to get around Grassley’s amendment. In fact, the spirit of Grassley’s language is still intact and in effect. The “exemption” is, in reality, the Office of Personnel Management’s decision to continue to cover 72 percent of the premium costs for Congress and its staffers — just like both the government and private businesses alike always have. There was no “plain text of the statute” to ignore because, to repeat, there’s nothing in the law that says Congress can’t have a premium sharing employer benefit.

While we’re here, let’s get to the bottom of who lobbied the administration for this so-called “exemption.” Politico reported that it was a collaboration between Harry Reid and Senate Democrat John Boehner. Wait. Boehner’s not a Senate Democrat like Cruz said. He’s the Republican Speaker of the House. It was a completely bipartisan move that included both the White House and congressional leaders. Let’s clear another thing up. Grassley merely proposed an amendment that failed. The Democrats later resurrected and adapted the idea and wrote it into the body of the law. Grassley only deserves partial credit for the rule, since it was ultimately a Democratic decision.

More weasel words from Cruz:

So suddenly the media goes, “Hahahaha! Gotcha!” Because Cruz is now signing up for Obamacare. Listen, I have zero intention of take any government subsidy or Obama subsidy. Rather, what I’m gonna do is pay on the marketplace for health insurance for my family, just like millions of Americans.

Well, he won’t get a subsidy because he earns significantly more than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level — the upper limit to receive premium subsidies. Notice, though, that he didn’t say “premium sharing” or “cost sharing” or “employer contribution.” He said “subsidy.” Why would he go on the Obamacare exchange, a politically dangerous move, other than for the better deal: comparable benefits and continued employer premium sharing, just like his wife’s old plan? If he intends, on the other hand, to pay his premium dues entirely out-of-pocket without any premium sharing, why didn’t he just enroll in COBRA through Goldman Sachs or buy insurance directly from a provider, sidestepping the political mess he’s in? Obviously because he wants the premium sharing, which technically isn’t a subsidy but rather a employee benefit — just like millions of Americans receive through their employers.

It’s one thing to abide by a law you don’t like, which happens all the time, but it’s another thing entirely to abide by a law you don’t like even though you have numerous alternative options to choose from. Instead, he chose Obamacare, which he hates, and, worse, he clearly plans to accept the premium sharing “exemption” that he keeps saying was an illegal plot by the Senate Democrats. Why is he doing this? Because it’s a fantastic deal and, financially, he’d be insane not to take it. Politically, however, it was a massive blunder. You know why the press is saying “gotcha!” right now? Because Cruz just blindly derped his way into a gigantic bear trap — an unforced error — and now he’s trying to weasel out of it.