Republicans

GOP’S BAFFLING TRUMP COWARDICE

GOP's baffling Trump cowardice: A party too timid to denounce a bigoted gasbag

Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz (Credit: AP/Scott Bauer/Richard Drew/J. Scott Applewhite/Photo montage by Salon)

SALON

Condemning Donald Trump’s obvious racism would be the easiest thing a Republican could do, but no one’s doing it

Just about every second of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, such as it is, has been a disaster. He kicked off his campaign two weeks ago with a speech calling Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists,” and he’s been dealing with the blowback ever since. Those comments prompted NBC – which had tolerated his bigoted nonsense for years while airing his reality show – to finally cut ties with Trump, who responded by calling NBC “weak” and “foolish.” Univision announced that it would not carry Trump’s Miss USA pageant, prompting Trump to threaten to sue the network. Mexico announced that it would not send a representative to Trump’s Miss Universe pageant because of his “racist” remarks. If there’s a positive to be found in any of this, it’s that Trump’s vanity run for president is backfiring and has helped tear down some of the other garish and pathetically self-congratulatory monuments he’s erected to himself.

But what I find curious about the reaction to Trump’s blatant racism and anti-immigrant posturing is that not one Republican has stood up and done literally the easiest, least controversial, most politically buzzy thing one could do in this situation: denounce Donald Trump.

Seriously, it’s utterly baffling. Let’s think about this for a moment. The Republican Party is painfully aware that it has a major problem appealing to voter demographics outside its core coalition of old white people and religious white people. This problem is especially acute in presidential election cycles — like the one we’re in now. Recognizing how toxic this alienation of minority groups was in the 2012 presidential race, the Republican National Committee put out a big report explicitly recommending that the party’s candidates and committees do more to reach out to and engage with Latino voters and make them feel less like the GOP actively despises them. “If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation),” the report counseled, “they will not pay attention to our next sentence.”

In this light, Trump’s comments should have been a big, fat, hanging curve for an enterprising Republican 2016 candidate to swing hard at. What he said was bigoted; there’s no disagreement on that. As far as adversaries go, you could do worse than Trump – he is a semi-sentient pile of hair and sadness, he has no feelings to hurt, and by being on the opposite side of him you win the argument by default. And what he said has nothing to do with immigration policy. By weighing in on it you wouldn’t be taking any dangerous positions you’d later have to defend. And the media would eat that mess up.

All you’d have to do is just stand up and say Trump is wrong and a racist, and that undocumented immigrants are not all rapists. It would be a small step toward demonstrating that Republicans recognize the basic humanity of the people at the center of a controversial policy fight and don’t view them merely as criminals or some sort of invasive species.

But no one did that.

The most outrage the RNC could muster came from its communications director, who said on CNN that “painting Mexican Americans with that kind of a brush, I think that’s probably something that is not helpful to the cause.” And as far as I can tell, the only candidate who has responded with any sort of criticism to Trump is Jeb Bush, who offered a mild Spanish-language rebuke of The Donald:

But on Saturday, Mr. Bush did address comments Mr. Trump made in his campaign launch speech about the Mexican border, in which he said people coming to the U.S. from Mexico are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

At a Saturday event in Nevada, Mr. Bush said in Spanish, “I do not agree with his words. They do not represent the values of the Republican Party and they do not represent my values,” according to a campaign aide.

As for the rest, they’ve either kept their mouths shut or, remarkably, agreed with Trump’s assessment of the immigrant community. “I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific, I think he’s brash, I think he speaks the truth,” Ted Cruz said on Fox Newsyesterday. I’m sure Republicans would much rather that Cruz and Trump be viewed as pariahs and extremists on this issue. By clamming up, though, they’re letting those two speak for the party. And this whole business with Trump being a flaming bigot won’t just go away. He’s Donald Trump – he doesn’t stop talking. The longer he’s out there saying racist garbage while running for the Republican nomination, the more awkward it becomes that no one is challenging him on it.

Again, I’m not saying that denouncing Trump would accomplish much of anything or solve any problems. The GOP has issues with Latino voters that go well beyond the bigotry of one rich white guy. But that’s why the silence on Trump is so strange to me. The party clearly has little intention of implementing policy changes to help broaden its appeal (border security now, border security forever!) so it would at least make some sense to go for the superficial outreach efforts. “Sure, we’re still going to deport you and your families and otherwise treat you like criminals, but hey – we don’t assume you’re rapists!” But apparently even that is too much to ask.

Republicans Voice Opposition To Subsidizing Broadband For The Poor

Jonathan Little of Thomasville, Ala., only has dial-up internet at home, and frequently uses the library to connect | Credit Meggan Haller for The New York Times

Of course they oppose it.  They are anti-poor and if they had their way, poor people would not be allowed to be educated.

ADDICTING INFO

Tom Wheeler, the chairperson of the Federal Communications Commission released a plan last week that would create a program that subsidizes broadband internet service for poor people. The plan calls for an expansion of the Lifeline phone subsidy program created by Ronald Reagan in 1985. In addition to expanding the program to cover internet subsidies, the plan also will work to crack down on fraudulent claims that have plagued the welfare program.

On Tuesday, a Senate subcommittee met to discuss the plan. The New York Times reports:

“Republicans pushed back on Tuesday against a plan from the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to subsidize broadband Internet for poor Americans.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing, no one disputed that broadband can be critical to filing job applications and completing schoolwork. But many lawmakers questioned just how costly the undertaking might be.

The plan from Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the F.C.C., would extend the reach of Lifeline, the program now used to provide low-income Americans with mobile and landline phone service. But Republicans at the hearing said that the program had been mismanaged and that it made little sense to expand it before eradicating what they called excessive fraud.”

Democrats have already drafted legislation that supports the plan.

Certain Republicans have expressed criticism of the idea. Last February, Republican FCC Commissioner, Michael O’Reilly wrote in a blog post:

“There is a legitimate debate whether the Lifeline program should be abolished or significantly scaled back rather than expanding its mission. I would be open to having a thoughtful debate on the best way to address a perceived need in this communications area rather than bootstrapping the old program with new responsibilities.”

He then outlines a list of principles that he proposes should be introduced in order to remove fraud from the program. However, the principles O’Reilly proposes appear to be interested in reducing the program overall, rather than merely than weed out abuse of the program.

Wheeler and other proponents of expanding the Lifeline program cite recent safeguards against people abusing the program. A national database was created in 2012 that helps to prevent people from registering services multiple times to the same residence. Since then, the number of people who use the program has dropped by a third.

Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) expressed (legitimate) concerns that the program would not address the needs of poor rural communities that currently lack broadband infrastructure.

Fred Upton (R-MI) the Republican chairperson of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told Bloomberg in an e-mail:

“Simply expanding the program without ensuring its effectiveness or longevity is the wrong approach,” The size of the program should be capped.”

Capping the program is one of main goals of Republicans. Currently, the Lifeline program does not have any limits on spending for the program.

There is not currently any organized opposition to the plan from the Republican Party. I suspect this is largely in part due to major telecommunications companies general favoring the expansion (more money for them). The telecommunications industry has the Republican Party in their pockets, and despite Republicans general opposition towards aiding the poor, they are not going to make a move against their corporate masters. Remember they are the party that managed to convince conservative voters that reclassifying the internet as a Title II public utility equated to a full-blown government takeover of the internet.

Republicans Flip Out After Rand Paul Treats Them The Same Way They’ve Treated Obama

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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

POLITICUS USA

Getting a taste of their own medicine is not sitting well with Republicans.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has made some powerful enemies in the Republican Party and conservatives are taking note. It was bad enough when Paul accused Republicans of emboldening ISIS and called them “lap dogs for Obama.”

The last straw came as the Republican trolled national security, leaving the nation vulnerable so that he could fundraise for his 2016 presidential campaign by pontificating from on high Smug Mountain.

Jim Geraghty writing in the conservative National Review today took Paul to task for accusing other Republicans of wanting a terrorist attack on the US so they can blame Paul:

Say the 2016 Republican presidential primary comes down to Rand Paul and… well, just about anybody else in the GOP field.

Don’t you think that a lot of Republicans will line up behind “Anybody Else”, compared to the senator who said: “People here in town think I’m making a huge mistake. Some of them, I think, secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me.”

Sigh. Rand Paul seems to believe that Republicans hate this country so much they’d love to see it blown to bits just to prove him wrong. So yeah. Republicans are a lot of things, including reckless and irresponsible and out of touch and at times ridiculous — but I don’t believe for one second that they would like the country to be blown up due to their failure to govern just so they could blame their teenage son.

That’s just crazy. Paul’s narcissism flag was in full flight.

Rand’s antics have long wearied the sanes, but now even Republicans are annoyed. How dare Paul accuse them of things they accuse Obama of every day?

Just recently Republican Lindsey Graham accused Obama of hating Christians and loving Muslims (apparently it’s bad to love Muslims). They falsely accused Obama of lying and being guilty of worse than Watergate based on flimsy, faux evidence that was later revealed to be Republican-manufactured, with the help of a willing press. Of course all of this was to be expected by the party that let their Vice Presidential candidate accuse the then Senator of “Pallin’ around with terrorists” and not loving America “like we do.”

Mind you, the above quotes come from the party that likes to accuse Obama of the “politics of division”.

Poser Senator Rand Paul is catnip for the frothing Kenya, fake birth certificate, conspiracy-obsessed conservatives, in addition to appealing to bored, sheltered, suburban types who like to imagine themselves to be highly unique and edgy-interesting. Yes, it’s so unique to see naïve people falling for a shyster who sells them a load of rhetorical crap about “independence” that somehow always involves donating to him. SO NEW. Only Rand Paul cares about liberty. (*Snicker*) Everyone else is out to get you.

Rand Paul is the Republicans’ perpetual teenager-in-rebellion. The brawl between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the junior Senator from Kentucky continued on the Senate floor Monday with McConnell desperately blocking amendments from Paul and Paul finding petulant ways to get back at McConnell by blocking the Senate from speeding up the vote.

But somehow, teeny bits of reality penetrated the Galtian smog surrounding Paul so that he must have realized that everyone from his own party hated him. This would not do, for all of his talk about liberty, the teenager needs his parents. So he sort of walked back his latest accusation, attributing it to “hyperbole”. Because yes, hyperbole and hysteria and not watching your words and launching rhetorical grenades at people just because you disagree with them is totally leadership material. Or it is exactly how a teenager behaves when a parent explains that the garbage must be taken out or else it accumulates.

From the Hill:

“Sometimes, in the heat of battle, hyperbole can get the better of anyone, and that may be the problem there,” the Kentucky Republican said Monday on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom.”

“The point I was trying to make is, I think people do use fear to try to get us to give up our liberty.”

LOL. Rand Paul would never use fear to get a political outcome. I mean, he did, but it’s different when he does it. Because it’s for “LIBERTY”. Anyone who disagrees with him wants to kill everyone just to get even with him! Rand Paul hates haters.

Republicans opened the door to this kind of crazy “governance” with six years of conspiracy theories gone wrong. Now that they invited the vampire in, they can’t get him out. And like everyone else, they don’t like being on the receiving end of crazy.

Sarah Jones

Rand Paul Has No Billionaire, Must Scrape For Cash

Crooks & Liars

Rand Paul’s role in the 2016 Republican primary is to peel off prospective young voters and disenfranchised liberals. So today’s spate of stories about how Rand Paul is being left out in the cold by his billionaires, leaving him short on cash should be viewed for the cynical manipulations they are.

We begin with Republico Politico :

In a presidential campaign defined by billionaire sugar daddy donors, Rand Paul has a problem: He doesn’t seem to have one.

While his rivals cultivate wealthy backers who will pump millions of dollars into their candidacies, Paul has struggled to find a similar lifeline. It’s led to considerable frustration in his campaign, which, amid rising concerns that it will not be able to compete financially, finds itself leaning heavily on the network of small donors who powered his father’s insurgent White House bids.

It hasn’t been for lack of trying. In recent months, Paul has sought to woo a string of powerful Republican megadonors — from Silicon Valley executives to a Kentucky coal mogul to the billionaire Koch brothers — who, it was believed, would be philosophically aligned with his free-market views. In each case, he met disappointment.

The author goes on to name Peter Thiel, Sean Parker and Larry Ellison as three billionaires Rand was counting on for financial help. Alas, Larry Ellison fell in love with Marco Rubio, Thiel is staying out of things for unknown reasons, and Parker is leaning toward Hillary Clinton.

I don’t buy the schtick. Mainstream Republicans wouldn’t let Rand Paul close to the nomination ever, because he doesn’t support the war machine. Given that, they really just want to use him to peel off those younger voters and liberal libertarians. This is why they’re tolerating his “the GOP sucks” nonsense and pretending it’s perfectly all right for him to play Democrat running in the Republican primaries.

Moving on to CNN, whose headline is “Rand Paul: The GOP’s Punching Bag.” This story is also framed for its intended purpose — to appeal to the less-mainstream types in the Republican party and independent category.

Rand Paul has a “kick me” sign on his back — and he put it there himself.

The Kentucky senator and Republican presidential candidate is thrilling his libertarian-leaning base with a campaign against the NSA and stinging criticism of his party’s history of Middle East meddling. But the moves are enraging other Republicans eyeing the White House with his opponents zeroing in on Paul’s comments this week that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party.”

Are we feeling sorry for that poor sad-sack politician yet? Piling on that way, shame on them.

And of course, the Patriot Act reauthorization plays into things here too.

The Paul-hating could come to a head this weekend when the Senate convenes for a rare Sunday session in a last-ditch attempt to prevent key NSA surveillance tactics from lapsing at midnight — something both President Barack Obama and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have sought to avoid.

Paul hasn’t hesitated to deploy every procedural tool available to thwart Senate action, leaving him with no friends on the issue among GOP presidential contenders.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is emerging as Paul’s top antagonist on the NSA and said such a strategy could result in “dangerous and severe consequences.”

On Twitter, the governor slammed “misguided ideologues who have no real world experience in fighting terrorism.”

This is what happens when you’re a hardcore Republican and you pretend you’re not. Yes, the libertarian piece is real, and it’s possible to applaud Rand Paul’s stance on that without actually supporting a guy who has no problem with big government sticking their probes in women’s vaginas.

Finally, we come to Fox News, who actually cut Paul out of their poll graphic even though he ranked higher than the bottom five shown.

HYPOCRISY ALERT: Republicans Want The Pope To Stop Inserting Religion Into Politics

File:Pope Francis at Varginha (2).jpg | Wikimedia Commons

ADDICTING INFO

Republicans love to pretend that they are the party of Jesus. They work tirelessly at pandering to the Christian-right vote. They believe we should be a nation of laws based upon Christian principles. However, there’s just one thing missing — the Christian principles.

If we, as a nation, were to abide by the teachings of Jesus from the Christian Bible, we would have health care for all, no death penalty, the wealthy would help pay for the poor, and everyone would love their neighbor as themselves. Pretty much everything Republicans adamantly stand against.

So when a Republican like Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina comes out and says:

“It’s interesting how the Vatican has gotten so political when ultimately the Vatican ought to be working to lead people to Jesus Christ and salvation, and that’s what the Church is supposed to do.”

This is of course in reference to Pope Francis recently coming out in favor of Palestine becoming its own state. And heaven forbid, anyone, especially the Pope come out in favor of something that may actually work, let alone something that isn’t just pro-Israel all the time. Republicans pretty much consider Israel the 51st state of the Union. The Vatican’s statement wasn’t even anti-Israel, it was pro-peace — you know, another Christian principle, so of course Republicans are against it.

The biggest foes to the teachings of Jesus in the United States are Republicans. They boast his name, but know nothing of his teachings. For them, it’s pretty much just a means to get votes and try to make excuses as to why they are discriminatory bigots.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said of the Pope’s views:

“He’s a religious figure and he has every right to have his political viewpoint, but someone of that profile should have strong scriptural foundation for whatever positions he takes that are extensively representing the head of the Catholic Church. I think this is probably one he should not have expressed.”

So wait, someone with strong religious principles should keep their opinions to themselves regarding politics? Let me make sure to write that one down for later the next time a Republican tries to say that the United States is a Christian nation. Maybe they should just keep those opinions to themselves — which, might I add, actually is the correct thing to do.

The Pope however, is more than just someone with strong religious principles, he is, in fact, a world leader. One who can promote change where change can seem impossible. So was it correct for the Pontiff to insert himself into this matter? Perhaps so. He could have a direct impact on the region and potentially help broker long-awaited change.

However, Republicans are not wrong in asserting that religious opinions should stay out of politics.

Now, if only they could realize this about themselves.

~

Jeb’s secret Jersey mission

NASHUA, NH – APRIL 17: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 17, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire. The Summit brought together local and national Republicans and was attended by all the Republicans candidates as well as those eyeing a run for the nomination. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Politico

The Bush campaign goes behind enemy lines to pick off Chris Christie’s supporters.

Jeb Bush is quietly waging a behind-the-scenes offensive to pick off disillusioned home-state supporters of Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor whose presidential prospects have dimmed in recent months.

Bush’s effort to undermine Christie’s network of donors, power-brokers, and political players is conducted mainly through emails and phone conversations — and he tracks the progress closely.

At a get-together with donors in Miami last weekend, Bush sat down for a private conversation with Lawrence Bathgate, a prominent New Jersey attorney and former Christie donor who is now behind the Florida Republican. During the talk, Bathgate, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman, outlined to Bush a plan to have a majority of the state’s 16 Republican state senators endorse him.

Bush responded with a question. How soon, he wanted to know, would the endorsements start to roll in? And could some of them be announced sooner rather than later?

The former Florida governor is said to court Christie boosters with frequent emails and makes himself accessible to them. “He’s a great emailer,” said Hersh Kozlov, a major Republican Party fundraiser in New Jersey and former Christie supporter who’s now with the former Florida governor.

The attempts to crack the Christie network — both are in competition for the same group of moderate and establishment Republicans — dates back at least to January, not long after Bush launched his presidential exploratory committee. At the time, Bush met with around a dozen New Jersey Republicans for dinner at New York City’s Union Club. He started out the meeting in a surprising way, telling those gathered that they should feel free to ask him anything — no holds barred. One person took him up on the challenge, posing a question to him about his daughter’s struggle with drug addiction.

For months, Bush and his finance chief, Heather Larrison, have been reaching out to New Jersey donors. Once a financial commitment is secured, they typically ask that person for names of friends or associates in the state who might also want to give.

As Christie’s fortunes have seemed to fade amid his sagging polling numbers, fiscal problems at home and fallout from the Bridgegate scandal — on Friday a former political ally of the governor pleaded guilty and two other former officials were indicted for their alleged roles in the affair — Bush’s efforts have ramped up.

Last month, Bush landed his biggest catch yet: Joe Kyrillos, a longtime state senator who chaired Christie’s 2009 campaign. When Kyrillos, a former New Jersey Republican Party chairman, appeared at a Bush donor event in Miami last week, he was greeted with a hero’s welcome. At a private dinner, which was attended by around 350 of the former governor’s biggest benefactors, the senator was rewarded with a round of applause and a seat at Bush’s table.

Continue reading here…

GOP Delays Benghazi Report Until 2016 Proving It’s All About Politics, Not Those Who Died

Addicting Info

If only the GOP was this adamant about getting to the bottom of the tragedy on 9/11/01, but wait… that was under Republican leadership, and Bush was instead made a hero. It’s always about politicizing tragedies to their favor. Always.

Republicans have no shame. None whatsoever. When the September 11 attacks happened, on American soil mind you, we were told that we were attacked… because we just were, and Republicans didn’t blame President Bush and his administration – even though they did ignore intelligence that said attacks were imminent.

However, when the attacks on an American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, occurred on 9/11/12, well that was obviously the fault of President Obama and Hillary Clinton. And godammit! Republicans are going to make sure they drag out and politicize the deaths of four Americans as long as they can in an effort to derail Clinton’s attempt at becoming the next President of the United States.

They don’t give a rat’s ass that the father of United States ambassador Christopher Stephens, who perished in the attack in Benghazi, asked that his son’s death not be politicized. Or the fact that 20 committee events and hearings have been held regarding the events on that fateful day, even committees run by House Republicans, debunking theories that there was any wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration. They will not let the matter rest until they can use it to keep Clinton out of the Oval Office. At least that’s their hope.

Now, the new House Benghazi committee is delaying their supposed “new” report until 2016 — months before the presidential election where Clinton will undoubtedly be the Democratic nominee. And who are they blaming for this delay?? The White House, of course.

The committee spokesman, Jamal Ware, told Bloomberg News in a statement:

“Factors beyond the committee’s control, including witness availability, compliance with documents requests, the granting of security clearances and accreditations—all of which are controlled by the Executive branch—could continue to impact the timing of the inquiry’s conclusion.”

Mmmhmm, yeah. That’s it. Never mind the countless other hearings and investigations that have already happened. This dead horse hasn’t only been kicked, but it’s been sent to the glue factory and is now being used to hold together the last semblance of an argument the Republicans have. It’s pathetic… and it’s continuing to prevent the families of the dead to grieve properly.

Of course, chairman of the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi, Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC), denies that this delay has anything to do with the upcoming election, saying:

“Secretary Clinton’s decision to seek the presidency of the United States does not and will not impact the work of the committee.”

Hahahahaha (hold on, need to breathe) hahahahaha! Did he say that with a straight face?

I’m sure it’s just happenstance that the release of the report will magically coincide with the presidential election. Totally.

What will likely happen, because it’s happened with every other Benghazi report, is that the Obama administration will be cleared of any wrongdoing, and this entire charade of an investigation to bury the former Secretary of State will be able to be used to her advantage.

These Republicans are pathetic and morally bankrupt when it comes to politicizing tragedy. It’s clear they don’t care about getting to the bottom of what happened, because that’s already occurred. And if they did, they’d be more focused on going after the people who attacked us, just like with 9/11/01. They only care about hurting Clinton’s chance at the presidency, and that is the God’s honest truth.

AUTHOR:

Obama Ribs GOP: Obamacare Didn’t Bring ‘Death Panels, Doom’

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AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin

TPM DC

“I mean we have been promised a lot of things these past five years that didn’t turn out to be the case —death panels, doom, a serious alternative from Republicans in Congress,” Obama said, smirking during a speech highlighting the fifth anniversary of his signature healthcare law. “The budget they introduced last week would literally double the number of uninsured in America.”

Obama’s comments came a week after Republicans introduced a new House budget that gutted most of Obamacare but did not offer an alternative. Obama conceded part of the reasons Republicans hadn’t yet offered an alternative plan was because healthcare policy isn’t easy.

“And in their defense, there are two reasons why coming up with an alternative has proven to be difficult,” Obama said. “First, it’s because the Affordable Care Act pretty much was their plan before I adopted it!”

Obamacare, Obama said, was “based on conservative market based principles developed by the Heritage Foundation and supported by Republicans in Congress. And deployed by a man named Mitt Romney in Massachusetts to great effect. If they want to take credit for this law, they can. I’m happy to share it.”

There have been many efforts, Obama added, to reform the country’s healthcare system.

“And second, because health reform is really hard and people here who are in the trenches know that. Good people from both parties have tried and failed to get it done for a hundred years,” Obama said. “Because every public policy has some tradeoffs, especially when it affects one sixth of American economy and applies to the very personal needs of every individual American. Now we’ve made our share of mistakes since we passed this law. But we also know beyond a shred of a doubt that the policy has worked. Coverage is up, cost growth is at a historic low, deficits have been slashed, lives have been saved.”

Obama also said in the speech that he was ready to sign a major overhaul of Medicare negotiated by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

5 Obama Successes Republicans Have To Pretend Never Happened

5 Obama Successes Republicans Have To Pretend Never Happened

President Obama arrives at Bob Hope Airport via helicopter from LAX, en route to ABC Studios for an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

The National Memo

Republicans have consistently said that a president cannot take responsibility for a strong economy — unless of course he’s a Republican.

A weak economy, however, is always a Democratic president’s fault. And if a Republican president presides over the worst financial crisis in a half-century after seven years in office, that is clearly the fault of poor people.

President Obama is in an awkward position when it comes to the economy. It’s only great if you compare it to the last 14 years. But with 50 percent of America now saying in the latest CNN poll that his presidency is a success, he figures that he’s now allowed to “take a well-earned victory lap” by answering the question Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) asked for four years: “Where are the jobs?”

“Well, after 12 million new jobs, a stock market that has more than doubled, deficits that have been cut by two-thirds, health care inflation at the lowest rate in nearly 50 years, manufacturing coming back, auto industry coming back, clean energy doubled — I’ve come not only to answer that question, but I want to return to the debate that is central to this country, and the alternative economic theory that’s presented by the other side,” the president said in Cleveland on Wednesday.

A sensible media would be debating which of Obama’s two great accomplishments — the stimulus or the Affordable Care Act — is a bigger success; which better proves that the government can successfully intervene to prevent suffering while reshaping our economy to be more sustainable; or about which Republicans were more wrong.

But conservatives won’t let that happen. They’ll focus on metrics that languished before Obama came into office — we’re very concerned about labor force participation all of a sudden! — and blast him for not solving all of the failures of conservative economics and foreign policies.

America should be used to Democratic presidents outperforming Republicans by now. While no administration is perfect, President Obama has staked strong claims for liberal values and policies that prove things Republicans have to pretend never happened.

  1. Proved trickle-down economics are wrong, again
    You don’t hear it mentioned often enough, but 2014 was the best year of job creation in this century. This is a key point, because it’s the first full year in which Obama’s economic policies really took hold. Most of the Bush tax breaks on the rich ended in 2013. And in 2014, new taxes on the wealthy and corporations kicked in to help 16 million Americans gain health insurance. The result was a job market like we haven’t seen since the’90s. As they did in 1993, Republicans claimed that asking the rich to pay a bit more would destroy the economy. So, of course, the opposite happened. It’s almost as if some tax hikes on the wealthy are good for the economy! But if Republicans admitted that, they’d have to give up their entire reason for existing, which is to comfort the most comfortable.
  2. Proved we can expand health insurance coverage and shrink the deficit.
    America’s long-term debt problems are largely built on conservatives’ unwillingness to do what every other advanced nation in the world does — insure everyone. As a result, we pay more and get worse results than almost every industrialized country in the world. Obamacare has shown that we can increase coverage dramatically while cutting more than $600 billion from long-term debt projections. Republicans have finally gotten honest in their new budget and admitted that their alternative to Obamacare is… nothing. They’ve got nothing because Obamacare was their alternative, and every prediction they’ve made about it has been wrong. Health spending isat a 50-year low, businesses aren’t dumping employees’ coverage, hospitals are performing better, and policy cancelations were likely lower than they were before the law. Meanwhile, Obama has been even more successful at shrinking the deficit as a percentage of GDP than even Bill Clinton.
  3. Proved that the government can kick-start a clean-energy revolution.
    When it comes to fighting climate change, President Obama has done more than anyone on Earth. Beyond the regulations he set in his first term, which are quickly reducing our dependency on dirty energy, the stimulus launched the clean-energy technological revolution this nation needed. Republicans started calling the stimulus “failed” before it even became law. And that kind of message discipline — plus half a billion dollars in ads that smeared the bill — scared Democrats from bragging about it. But now that we’ve experienced the first year of economic growth where carbon emissions didn’t increase in 40 years, maybe they should.
  4. Proved we can regulate Wall Street without killing the stock market.
    Good news! Bankers are complaining about being regulated too much. Despite this “over-regulation,” we’re seeing constant stock market records. Meanwhile, the memory of the costs of under-regulation — 8 million jobs and trillions in wealth — continues to fade. Democrats have become newly proud of the Dodd-Frank law now that they see how desperate Republicans are to gut it. The success in keeping the economic engine of the rich purring should not dissuade those on the left. Instead, they should continue to fight against the persistent dangers to our economy that come from ridiculous executive compensation schemesstock buybacks, and high-frequency trading.
  5. Proved that we should give diplomacy a chance.
    The Bush administration left America facing a newly nuclear-armed North Korea, an Iran building nuclear centrifuges, and a wrecked Iraq, run by a propped-up sectarian strongman with no interest in reconciliation. Democrats were likely naive in assuming this Tower of Babel of foreign policy disasters could be kept from crumbling. The Obama administration’s effort to re-engage the world may seem foolhardy now — but what was the alternative? More confrontational Republican alternatives would have guaranteed nothing but more American lives lost. Syria is a disaster. Libya proved that regime change is never simple. Putin is emboldened or frantically flailing, depending on your point of view. But as a result of re-engagement with our allies and a Medvedev-led Russia, sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table. We’re closer than ever to a nuclear deal that could prevent another, still more disastrous war. And even if it fails, at least we tried not to repeat the catastrophes of the past.

Despite these successes, Republicans have to see Obama as a floundering, economy-shrinking, deficit-creating failure, or risk questioning their failed worldview.

Essentially, they have to pretend he’s Bobby Jindal.

GOP Hero: Where Bibi Leads, the GOP Will Follow

Nir Elias/Reuters

The Daily Beast

A day before his apparent victory in Israel, the prime minister rejected a two-state solution. Now expect Republicans to follow him—destroying a rare point of unity with Democrats.

Yes, it looks like Bibi Netanyahu has a better shot than Bougie Herzog does of forming the next government. There are many moving parts here, so it’s not completely set in stone. But the clear consensus by 5 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday, an hour after the polls closed, was that Netanyahu and Likud have a clearer path to 61 seats than Herzog and the Zionist Union party do.

I’ll leave it to others who know the intricacies of Israeli politics better than I to parse all that. But let’s talk about the impact of a possible Netanyahu victory on our politics here in the United States. The answer is appallingly simple, I think: Though we won’t see this happen immediately or sensationally, it seems clear that, month by month and inch by gruesome inch, a Netanyahu win will move the Republican Party further to the right, to an unofficial (and who knows, maybe official) embrace of Netanyahu’s pivotal and tragic new position of opposition to a two-state solution.

Netanyahu declared said opposition, as you know, the day before the voting, when he stated, in a videotaped interview: “Whoever today moves to establish a Palestinian state and withdraw from territory is giving attack territory for Islamic extremists against the state of Israel. Whoever ignores that is burying his head in the sand.” When his questioner asked if this meant a Palestinian state would not be established on his watch, the prime minister said: “Indeed.”

Now, it’s been known in Israel and America that this was Netanyahu’s true view of things for some time. He partially gave the game away last summer during a press conference. But he never quite said it as directly as he did Monday, in the culminating event of his final, frenzied, fear-mongering campaign. Israeli leaders of the major parties have at least officially supported a two-state solution for many years. But as of Monday, opposition to a two-state solution is official Israel policy, and as long as Bibi’s the boss, it will remain so.

The United States has officially supported a two-state solution at least since George H.W. Bush was president. Presidents of both parties, and even virtually all serious presidential contenders from both parties, have been on record in favor of a two-state solution. Each president has put varying spins on what it means, and has invested more (Bill Clinton) or less (George W. Bush) elbow grease in trying to bring such a solution about. But it has been the bipartisan position in the United States for 25 years or more, and that has meant there at least was a pretense—and sometimes more than that—of a shared goal somewhere down the road between Israel and Fatah (admittedly not Hamas).

Now Netanyahu has ditched that. How will our Republicans react? Well, they love Netanyahu. As they recently demonstrated to us all, he is, in effect, their president, at least on matters relating to the Middle East and Iran. Is it so crazy to think that what Bibi says, the Republicans will soon also be saying?

Now throw Sheldon Adelson into this stewpot. There are many reasons the Republican Party as a whole has become so epileptically pro-Israel in recent years: their ardor for Bibi, the power of the lobby, the influence of the Christian Zionist movement, and more. But another one of those reasons is surely Adelson. When you’re that rich and that willing to throw multiple millions into U.S. and Israeli electoral politics (to the GOP and Likud), you become influential. Adelson is completely opposed to a Palestinian state. “To go and allow a Palestinian state is to play Russian roulette,” he said in October 2013.

There is already a history of GOP candidates making their hajjes, so to speak, out to Adelson’s Las Vegas base of operations and saying what he wants to hear. John Judis wrote about this in The New Republic a year ago. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and John Kasich trotted out to Vegas and filled Adelson’s ear with pretty music. Judis: “The presidential hopefuls made no attempt to distinguish their views on Israel and the Palestinians from Adelson’s.” Christie even apologized for having once used the phrase “occupied territories”!

So here we are today: Bibi, their hero, has said it openly, and “proved” (for the time being) that saying it pays electoral dividends; their base certainly believes it; and Adelson and his checkbook make it potentially quite a profitable thing for them to say. So watch the Republican candidates start announcing that they’re against the two-state solution. Some will be coy about it (Bush, probably). Others—Ted Cruz, and I suspect Walker, who’s already been acting like foreign policy isjust a little make-believe game anyway, an arena that exists merely for the purpose of bashing Barack Obama and pandering to the base—will likely be less coy.

If this happens, do not underestimate the enormity of the change it heralds. As of now, I am told by people who know, no Republican legislator in Washington has explicitly disavowed a two-state solution. The closest Congress has come to doing so was on a 2011 resolution offered by ex-Rep. Joe Walsh that called for congressional support for Israeli annexation of “Judea and Samaria.” Walsh got a number of co-sponsors, 27 of whom are still in office.

But that was then. Four years later, Bibi is the American right’s über-hero, and there’s every reason to think Republicans will follow where he leads. And so a rare point on which our two parties were, however notionally, united, will likely be yet another point of division—and given the intensity of feeling here, bitter division. Republicans will think they can increase their percentage among Jewish voters. The current polls indicate that three-quarters to four-fifths of U.S. Jews (about the percentage that votes Democratic) back a two-state solution. But if Bibi proved anything these last few days, he proved that demagoguery and lies can alter percentages. Brace yourselves.