Newt Gingrich

Why The Tea Party Really Hates Obamacare

The National MemoGene Lyons

First they lie to you, and then they ask you for money.

That’s the essence of the great Tea Party/Ted Cruz crusade to “defund” Obamacare, a political and constitutional impossibility. The question was settled, probably for good, when President Obama won re-election in 2012 and Democrats kept control of the Senate.

Instead, it’s about TV face-time and harvesting donations from gullible voters misled both about the Affordable Care Act itself and Sen. Cruz’s nonexistent chances of ending it.

Amid all the melodramatic TV chatter, the estimable blogger Digby puts it in terms everybody should understand. She has a friend in the insurance industry whose company has been getting thousands of calls from frightened policyholders who fear that the hullabaloo in Washington could result in their losing health coverage.

“I asked her what calmed people down,” Digby writes “and she says she tells everyone to think about their high school civics class and remember that laws have to be passed by both houses and signed into law by the president. Without proselytizing at all, everyone immediately realizes what an absurd exercise in futility all this nonsense really is.”

A narrow Republican majority in the House can’t void the Affordable Care Act any more than 54 Senate Democrats can force everybody in Oklahoma to eat broccoli. Anybody who tells you differently is a flim-flam artist.

Such as Newt Gingrich. The presiding genius of the 1996 GOP government shutdown went on ABC’s This Week to deliver pseudo-historical profundity: “Under our constitutional system going all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215, the people’s house is allowed to say to the king we ain’t giving you money.”

Actually, the U.S. Constitution of 1789 makes no provision for a king. Neither, as former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich has reminded Gingrich, does it “allow a majority of the House of Representatives to repeal the law of the land by defunding it. If that were the case, no law [would be] safe.”

No federal court could rule otherwise. It’s a separation of powers issue. These principles are so fundamental to American governance that even the Wall Street Journal reminds GOP hotheads that for all the three-ring thrills provided by Sen. Cruz and his allies, “the only real way to repeal the law is to win elections.”

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From Fox News to Rush: Secrets of the right’s lie machine

From Fox News to Rush: Secrets of the right's lie machine

Salon

Conservative media plays by its rules, and bends truth to back whatever argument they’ve decided to make that day

Excerpted from “Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America” 

One key factor that has altered campaign coverage comes from the corporate right in the form of “conservative” media. If there has been a vacuum created by the downsizing of newsrooms, conservative media have filled it with an insistent partisanship unseen in commercial news media for nearly a century. The conservative media program has been a cornerstone of the Dollarocracy’s — the big money and corporate media election complex — political program since at least Lewis Powell’s 1971 memo. Initially, the work was largely about criticizing the news media for being unfair to conservative Republicans and having a liberal Democratic bias. Although the actual research to support these claims was, to be generous, thin—one major book edited by Brent Bozell actually claimed corporations such as General Electric were “liberal” companies with an interest in anti-business journalism because they had made small donations to groups like the NAACP and the Audubon Society—the point was not to win academic arguments. The point of bashing the “liberal media,” as Republican National Committee chairman Rich Bond conceded in 1992, was to “work the refs” like a basketball coach does so that “maybe the ref will cut you a little slack” on the next play.

The ultimate aim of Dollarocracy was, as James Brian McPherson put it, “to destroy the professionalism that has defined journalism since the mid-twentieth century.” The core problem was that professional journalism, to the extent it allowed editors and reporters some autonomy from the political and commercial values of owners, opened space for the legitimate presentation of news and perspectives beyond the range preferred by conservatives. That professional journalism basically conveyed the debates and consensus of official sources and remained steadfastly within the ideological range of the leadership of the two main political parties—it never was sympathetic to the political left—was of no concern. It still gave coverage to policy positions on issues such as unions, public education, civil rights, progressive taxation, social security, and the environment that were thoroughly mainstream but anathema to the right. Key to moving the political center of gravity to the right was getting the news media on the train, and that meant getting them to have a worldview more decidedly sympathetic to the needs of society’s owners. Newt Gingrich was blunt when he told media owners in 1995 that they needed to crack the whip on their newsrooms and have the news support the corporation’s politics. “Get your children to behave,” he demanded in a private meeting with media CEOs.

In the late 1980s, conservatives moved from criticism to participation with the aggressive creation of right-wing partisan media. The first decisive move came with AM talk radio. The elimination of the Fairness Doctrine (which required that a broadcaster provide two sides to controversial political issues) and the relaxation of ownership rules such that a handful of companies established vast empires opened the door to a tidal wave of hard-core right-wing talk-show hosts. By the first decade of the century, the 257 talk stations owned by the five largest companies were airing over 2,500 hours of political talk weekly and well over 90 percent was decidedly right wing.

The undisputed heavyweight champion was and is Rush Limbaugh, who emerged as a national radio force by 1990 and who by 1993 was already recognized by the bible of modern conservatism, William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review magazine, as an unmatched political power in Republican circles; the Review dubbed him the “Leader of the Opposition.” Limbaugh and his cohorts have the power to make or break Republican politicians, and all who wish successful national careers have to pray at his far-right altar or suffer the consequences. As Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph Cappella put it, in many respects Limbaugh came to play the role party leaders had played in earlier times.

Read the complete article here

Rachel Maddow Rips Conservative Media For Scamming Donors

Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow has no qualms about exposing the underbelly of the Right-Wing Super PAC scamming business and the Right-Wing media’s compliance.  This woman is awesome.  No wonder she’s beating brain dead Hannity in the ratings.

The Huffington Post

Rachel Maddow tore into members of the conservative media on her Monday MSNBC show for what she called “scamming” gullible members of their own party who donate to various Super PACs.

Maddow discussed how watchdog group Media Matters recently looked into conservative pundit Dick Morris’ Super PAC and found that some of his key expenditures included renting his own email list, which is operated by Newsmax Media.

“So your money … goes to Dick Morris, who apparently then pays it to Newsmax to send emails, and then Newsmax maybe just pays it back to Dick Morris to pay for the email addresses to which they just sent all of his emails,” Maddow said. “What these financial reports seems to indiciate is that donations to Dick Morris’ Super PAC substantially end up just going to Dick Morris.” She added that Morris’ Super PAC has been around for a couple of years “so maybe it doesn’t always look like a scam,” but that more and more “scammy-looking” arrangements have been coming to light — as in the case of the well funded Tea Party group Freedom Works.

Dick Armey, the man who helped build the conservative group, recently left and arranged an $8 million golden parachute for himself upon his departure, which raised some eyebrows. Then news broke that Freedom Works president Matt Kibbe allegedly used the group’s staff and funds to write part of his book. “So if you think about it, anyone donating to Freedom Works was effectively paying for the staff time and the resources to produce a project that just personally profited one of the people who works there,” Maddow said. “A scam.”

Maddow likened the situation to what she called Newt Gingrich’s “direct mail scam,” where he would give businesses fake awards, which gave them the opportunity to donate $5,000 to meet him. “Congratulations to you!” Maddow quipped. “Where is your check to me?”

She also compared the situation to what she called the “scammy campaign” where Mike Huckabee asked supporters to donate $2,500 to “help fund the battle” against Obamacare, which also went towards helping to keep Huckabee on TV to repeal Obamacare.

“Will having Mike Huckabee on TV repeal Obamacare? I’m checking with the constitution, but I don’t think so,” Maddow said. She later added, “If you are a person who has long been fascinated by how similar the conservative ‘be afraid’ direct mail that asks for money looks to the kind of direct mail that tries to scam your grandmother out of her savings … it is amazing to see, if you have been watching this over time … is how persistent this is.”

Sheldon Adelson Spent Far More On Campaign Than Previously Known

Sheldon Adelson

Although casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson probably makes 150 million a day in casino revenues, to the average person, that is a huge sum of money to spend supporting a candidate…

The Huffington Post

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson vowed to spend as much as $100 million to defeat President Barack Obama and help the GOP take control of Congress. According to two GOP fundraisers with close ties to the Las Vegas billionaire, he made good on that promise — and then some. Adelson ultimately upped the ante, spending closer to a previously unreported $150 million, the fundraisers said.

Adelson, a fierce critic of Obama’s foreign and domestic policies, has said that his humongous spending was spurred chiefly by his fear that a second Obama term would bring “vilification of people that were against him.” As that second term begins, Adelson’s international casino empire faces a rough road, with two federal criminal investigations into his business.

This coming week, Adelson plans to visit Washington, according to three separate GOP sources familiar with his travel schedule. While here, he’s arranged Hill meetings with at least one House GOP leader in which he is expected to discuss key issues, including possible changes to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the anti-bribery law that undergirds one federal probe into his casino network, according to a Republican attorney with knowledge of his plans.

During the election, Adelson told Politico that the Justice Department investigation, and the way he felt treated by prosecutors, was a primary motivation for his investment in Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and other GOP candidates. He put his money where his mouth was. The two GOP fundraisers, both with strong ties to Adelson, said that the casino mogul dished out close to $150 million, including between $30 million and $40 million to the Karl Rove-founded Crossroads GPS and at least $15 million to grassroots efforts with financial links to Charles and David Koch. Among other major beneficiaries of Adelson’s largess were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which received almost $5 million from Adelson, and the Republican Jewish Coalition, which got the bulk of its $6.5 million budget from him, the fundraisers said.

All of these are non-profit groups, which — unlike the super PACs that raked in $54 million in funds from Adelson and his wife — are not currently required to disclose their donors. Adelson’s public spending spree, larger than any other donor’s in the last election, was made possible by two high court rulings in early 2010 that allowed corporations, unions and individuals to write unlimited checks to outside groups for political ads and other activities backing candidates

The two fundraisers who provided information to The Huffington Post represented separate groups that each received seven-figure checks this year from Adelson. The fundraisers learned details of Adelson’s spending plans about a month prior to the election: one heard of them in a talk with the casino owner himself, while the other didn’t indicate if his information came from Adelson or a top aide to the billionaire. Both requested anonymity to protect their ties to Adelson and because they were not authorized to speak publicly about his giving.

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Twinkie Gate: Republicans Admit Hostess Closing was About Killing Unions

Who knew? (sarcasm)

PoliticusUSA

While the right has been blaming unions for the closing of Hostess, Newt Gingrich and George Will admitted that they expect the company to return without union workers in a right to work state.

Transcript:

RADDATZ: Can we have — can we a very quick thoughts of Twinkies in your life? Just — not you, Jon Karl. You’re too young. You’re the youngest member of this roundtable. Did you like Twinkies growing up?

WILL: I liked Hostess cupcakes, but don’t despair. Someone’s going to buy — someone’s going to — the brand has value. Someone will buy it.

RADDATZ: It’s not the…

WILL: And they will go and manufacture it in a right-to-work state, where Hostess does not have to operate under 372 collective bargaining agreements.

RADDATZ: OK. OK. Quickly, just Twinkie memories.

BRAZILE: I remember when it was 25 cent a pack, when my grandmother — it was two for five cents. It’s $1.69. I would like the original Twinkie back.

RADDATZ: Twinkies…

KARL: But I just have to say very quickly, I mean, what about Wonder Bread? Wonder Bread’s going, too.

RADDATZ: Yeah, that’s…

KARL: And this is not just about Twinkies.

RADDATZ: You brought that with you, because you like it so much.

BECERRA: I’m a chocolate fiend. Hostess has a company in Sacramento where I was born and raised, saw it every — almost every day of the week.

RADDATZ: Five seconds?

GINGRICH: I’m with George. Twinkie will survive in a new corporate framework.

All of the blame of unions by Hostess and the right wing media is a bunch of malarkey designed to further the conservative agenda of destroying organized labor. The reality is that by closing the company, the investment bankers that run Hostess can suck even more profit out of an already twice bankrupted company. The door is open for someone to buy the company, and relocate it to a right to work state.

According to Fortune, this is how Hostess emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, “Hostess was able to exit bankruptcy in 2009 for three reasons. The first was Ripplewood’s equity infusion of $130 million in return for control of the company (it currently owns about two-thirds of the equity). The second reason: substantial concessions by the two big unions. Annual labor cost savings to the company were about $110 million; thousands of union members lost their jobs. The third reason: Lenders agreed to stay in the game rather than drive Hostess into liquidation and take whatever pieces were left. The key lenders were Silver Point and Monarch. Both are hedge funds that specialize in investing in distressed companies — whether you call them saviors or vultures depends on whether you’re getting fed or getting eaten.”

Hostess was a distressed company that was taken over by Bain style management that had one eye on closing the company the whole time. Hostess had already stopped contributing to employee pensions, was swimming in debt, and demanded that workers take an additional 27%-32% pay cut.

The vulture capitalists don’t care that 18,500 people just lost their jobs. Like Mitt Romney, to the job killers running Hostess profit is king. The Hostess brand will resurface. It is likely to come back in a Southern red state with a labor force earning a bit above minimum wage and no benefits. The Twinkie will be back, but those 18,500 decently paying jobs with benefits will never return.

Sarah Palin challenges Obama to debate

I try to ignore this really crazy lady, but just had to share this with everyone…

The Hill

Sarah Palin shot back at the Obama reelection campaign this week after it used footage of her in a fundraising video.

“I’m not running for any office, but I’m more than happy to accept the dubious honor of being Barack Obama’s ‘enemy of the week’ if that includes the opportunity to debate him on the issues Americans are actually concerned about,” Palin wrote in a note on her Facebook page, posted late Monday. Palin was responding to a Web video fundraising for Obama that uses recent footage of Palin criticizing the president.

Palin also offered a challenge to Obama.

“I’m willing and free to discuss these issues with the President anywhere, anytime,” Palin wrote.

The Obama campaign released a video on Friday that calls out Palin by name. It charges: “Sarah Palin and the far right say President Obama will bring back racial discrimination … against white people.”

Palin said it is an example of Obama’s “diversionary tactics” that “shows that our President sure seems fearful of discussing the economy, energy prices, and all the other problems people need addressed.”

She proposed that Obama could also debate any of “the four patriots currently running for the GOP nomination” — Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum or Ron Paul — on the issues.

The campaign video uses footage of a Fox News appearance where Palin, discussing Obama’s college relationship with prominent Harvard Professor Derrick Bell, accused Obama of following “radical” philosophies that hearken back to an before the Civil War “when unfortunately too many Americans mistakenly believed that not all men were created equal.”

The campaign video strongly condemns Palin for the assertion.

“These attacks are wrong and dangerous. If you’re tired of it, do something: Donate to the two term fund,” the video reads.

Palin called the “absurd new attack” ad “heavily edited” but “quite telling.”

Reaffirming the comments she had made on Fox News, Palin also encouraged her readers and the media to re-open a discussion about “Obama’s radical past associations and the radical philosophy that shaped his ideas.”

The video of Obama introducing Bell in 1991 prompted a controversy among some conservatives because Bell, who was the first black tenured Harvard Law School professor, also helped initiate the academic discipline of Critical Race Theory.

Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, is a Fox News contributor.

Ohio GOP Election Board Member: Our Voting Process Shouldn’t Accommodate Black Voters

Doug Preisse:  I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine. Let’s be fair and reasonable.

So,  how far back into the last century do they want people of color to regress in terms of voting rights?  Perhaps till they have no voting rights at all?  Is this their punishment for having voted for Obama?   92% of Black voters voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

It appears that this is the only way “they” can reduce those numbers…simply by making it difficult for people in “urban areas” to vote for him again.   However, the most disturbing aspect of this is that of the Black voters they have targeted, many of them are  poor minorities with no political power at all, thus making them an easy target.

Think Progress

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s recent decision to prohibit early voting on nights and weekends in all districts has many concerned about the effect on voter turnout in the state, particularly among low-income and minority communities. But one Republican Party chairman is content to suppress votes among this vulnerable demographic. Doug Preisse, chairman of the Republican Party in Franklin County, which contains the city of Columbus, admitted in an email to the Columbus Dispatch that black voters would now have a more difficult time voting:

I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine. Let’s be fair and reasonable.

Preisse was one of the board of elections members who blocked Democratic efforts in Franklin County to expand voting hours to evenings and weekends. According to the Dispatch, he called claims of unfairness “bullshit. Quote me!”

Preisse also served on Newt Gingrich’s leadership team in Ohio during the primary and is a top political consultant to Ohio governor John Kasich (R).

In 2008, 82 percent of early voters in Franklin County voted on nights or weekends. The Secretary of State has defended the move to cut hours across the state by pointing to his initiative sending absentee ballots to every registered voter. But according to a study by Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates, black voters and Democrats prefer to cast their ballots in person, with 13.3 percent of black Ohioans casting early ballots in 2008 compared to just 8 percent of white voters.

Secretary of State Husted most recently suspended two Democratic members of the Montgomery County Election Board for voting to allow weekend voting in spite of the directive to restrict hours.

Romney Campaign Falsely Accuses Obama Of Gutting Welfare In New Ad

One has to wonder what is the method to GOP presumptive presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s insistence on lying on his campaign ads attacking President Obama?

It could be that he knows his “Fox News watching base” is rather dense on many areas about politics and simply hate the President,  so they would believe anything Romney says about Obama.

The problem with that line of thinking is that he already has the votes from his base. He needs to sway independents to believe him, which might be more difficult…

The Huffington Post

Mitt Romney’s campaign continued to attack President Barack Obama over welfare reform with the release of a new ad on Monday, once again falsely stating that the president dropped work requirements from welfare.

The ad, titled “Long History,” is the second ad from the Romney campaign to claim that Obama has “gutted” welfare. The campaign’s previous ad on welfare, released just last week, was widely criticized as inaccurate and debunked by numerous fact checkers.

The Obama administration announced in July that states could seek waivers from certain welfare rules, but in doing so they would have to provide ideas for projects and initiatives that would do a better job of increasing employment among welfare recipients. Furthermore, the Obama administration has made it clear that it would not drop requirements for states that failed to promise better work outcomes.

Yet in the new ad, the narrator states, “On July 12th, Obama quietly ended work requirements for welfare. You wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job.”

Continue reading here…

Limbaugh Wants to Extend Vote Suppression to Women

Is it me or is our country rapidly going to hell in a hand-basket at the hands of Republicans?

The Nation

It did not generate the outrage that his offensive statements often do, probably just because it happened the day before July 4, but last Tuesday Rush Limbaugh made an inadvertently revealing statement. “When women got the right to vote is when it all went downhill because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instincts that government ought to reflect,” said Limbaugh.

Limbaugh was not summarizing some serious new political science research. He was merely making assertions based on his own sexist stereotypes and the fact that women vote more Democratic than men.

The notion that women are less capable of controlling their biological weaknesses for the good of their country is often heard from right-wing men. Newt Gingrich, who never served in the military, once said that women could not serve in combat because they would “get infections,” from living in ditches.

Limbaugh’s comment is also a reflection of Republican attitudes toward voting, and why they are so eager to trample voting rights. For another example, recall that Ann Coulter told the New York Observer in 2007, “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine.”

Limbaugh’s defense is that he was joking. But you never hear liberals joke that the world would be better if men or white people were not allowed to vote.

Republicans like Coulter and Limbaugh believe that groups who vote Democratic shouldn’t have the right to vote. The available mechanisms they are using, such as voter ID laws, target Democratic-leaning groups such as African-Americans, young people, city dwellers and poor people. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “More than 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, putting their voting rights at risk in the November election.” That’s 9.2 percent of Pennsylvania’s 8.2 million voters.

If there were a mechanism for disenfranchising women, the GOP would be pushing it.

Watch here…

From Day One

The Daily Beast‘s Michael Tomasky has written a critique about GOP behavior toward Obama and the country.  His premise is supported by Robert  Draper’s Do Not Ask What Good We Do, which focuses on just that, GOP behavior towards this president.

The Daily Beast

I’ve been reading Robert Draper’s Do No Ask What Good We Do, about the new GOP House, and it opens with a very interesting anecdote. On the night of Obama’s inauguration, Draper writes, about 15 GOP legislators from both houses–along with Newt Gingrich, journalist Fred Barnes, and pollster Frank Luntz, who arranged the evening–got together at a Washington restaurant.

They were not necessarily the party’s official leaders, but they were the emotional leaders of the new breed–Jim DeMint, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy–which is to say, the cohort to whom many others were looking for leadership; indeed, if you know anything about Mitch McConnell, to whom the leadership was looking for leadership. They talked for four hours about what their posture should be.

They agreed that night: oppose everything in completely unity. Show, Draper writes, “united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies.”

So, before President Obama had proposed a single idea, the Republicans had already decided that they would oppose everything he did. Didn’t matter what it was. Look his plans over and see where we might be able to work together? Are you kidding?

Remember, this is the middle of a near-depression. The country lost around 800,000 jobs that very month. Every economic indicator was in the toilet and quickly rushing down into the sewer. The country was at the rock-bottom point of its worst economic crisis in the lifetimes of every one of the men in that room.

One might hope under such circumstances that the agenda-setting members of a minority party would, oh, convene a meeting in which someone said something like, “You know, we don’t like this president, and we’re not going to agree with him much, but let’s remember that almost a million Americans are losing their jobs this month, so we might want to find one or two areas of agreement.”

If anyone said such a thing, which seems doubtful, Draper doesn’t record it. Instead, the posture was–oppose, and stick him with the blame.

And no, Democrats don’t behave this way. I have shown before that Democrats in Congress voted at far higher rates for Bush’s signature legislative proposals than Republicans did for Obama’s, by 41 percent to 6 percent. It’s not chiefly because Democrats are better people, although it’s certainly true that Democrats aren’t as ideologically crazed as Republicans. it’s chiefly because many Democrats were in January 2001 from purple districts. But whatever the reason, Democrats didn’t and don’t do this.

It’s pretty amazing, and it’s worse that they get away with it because it’s precisely the behavior expected of them, so no one bats an eye any more. But this is not even the behavior of apes, who are far more socialized.