“What emerged clearly in the hearing today is that there were no military assets within range that could have prevented what happened in Benghazi that night.” ~ Lawrence O’Donnell
“What emerged clearly in the hearing today is that there were no military assets within range that could have prevented what happened in Benghazi that night.” ~ Lawrence O’Donnell
“Americans”, journalist David Halberstam once wrote, are “remarkably tolerant of error, particularly if it is self-confessed.”
Mark Sanford is thanking his lucky stars that’s the case. The former South Carolina governor won his old seat in Congress back on Tuesday, after voters in the state’s coastal 1st Congressional District decided to overlook his many misadventures since he first admitted an extramarital affair in 2009.
Sanford, 52, a Republican, defeated Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a 58-year old businesswoman best known nationally as comedian Stephen Colbert’s older sister, in a special election to fill a seat vacated by former Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). Scott was appointed by the state’s Republican governor to the U.S. Senate after Jim DeMint left his seat early to lead The Heritage Foundation, a D.C. think tank.
“It would be the most obvious of obviouses to say that I thought politics was forever over for me,” Sanford told The Huffington Post in an interview last week. “But something happened that never happened in our state, which is, you know, a United States senator retired early. I mean that just doesn’t happen in South Carolina.”
Two weeks ago, Sanford was in “free fall,” as he described it. His past indiscretions -– which played out in front of a national audience four years ago -– were dredged back up by news of trespassing complaints that had been lodged against him by his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, for showing up at her home uninvited.
“I said to my guys at the time, ‘Look, this thing’s over with if people think that I’m the kind of guy that would go, you know, creeping through the hedge of my ex’s house,’” Sanford said.
Most folks knew this since Robert Draper’s book came out. It’s not often that a GOP Senator spills the beans in this way though. Bravo Sen. Toomey…
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) revealed that some members of his party opposed expanding background checks for gun sales recently because they didn’t want to “be seen helping the president.”
Two weeks ago, only three Republican senators voted for the bipartisan background checks amendment sponsored by Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), despite overwhelming popular support for such a measure.
“In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it,” Toomey admitted on Tuesday in an interview with Digital First Media editors in the offices of the Times Herald newspaper in Norristown, Pa.
The Times Herald noted that in “subsequent comments,” Toomey “tried to walk that remark part-way back by noting he meant to say Republicans across the nation in general, not just those in the Senate.”
Last week, Toomey placed more of the blame on the president himself, telling the Morning Call, “I would suggest the administration brought this on themselves. I think the president ran his re-election campaign in a divisive way. He divided Americans. He was using resentment of some Americans toward others to generate support for himself.”
Manchin has argued, however, that the National Rifle Association’s decision to score the vote was the main reason the compromise amendment on background checks failed. Without it, he believed, 70 senators — well above the 60-vote threshold needed for passage — would have supported it.
Opponents also pushed a significant amount of misinformation before the vote, including the myth that the legislation would lead to a federal gun registry. In fact, the bill would have made the creation of such a registry a felony carrying a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Toomey was pessimistic on Tuesday about the prospects of gun legislation moving forward, saying it’s “not likely to happen any time soon.”
“The bill is available right now and Sen. (Majority leader Harry) Reid could bring it up for a vote at any time, but we need five people to change their minds,” he said.
Toomey, on the other hand, has seen his poll numbers rise.
Another outrageous GOP policy…
In 1979, the Supreme Court affirmed a decision holding that state cannot place unique burdens on college student votes that do not apply to other members of the electorate. Nevertheless, Ohio Republicans now want to punish state universities that encourage students to cast a ballot. Under a budget amendment filed by Republicans in the Ohio House, state universities that provide documents enabling students to register to vote in their college town, rather than in the state where their parents reside, will be forbidden from charging those students out-of-state tuition. Thus, the amendment would effectively reduce the funding of state schools that assist their students in registering to vote.
This is the second GOP attempt to restrict college students from voting in just the past month. About a month ago, a North Carolina Republican lawmaker filed a bill that would raise taxes on families with college students if the student registers to vote at school rather than in their parents’ hometown.
It’s not difficult to guess why Republicans support these — and other — efforts to make it harder for college students to cast a ballot. As former New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien (R) said when explaining his support for measures to make it harder to vote, “the kids coming out of the schools and basically doing what I did when I was a kid, which is voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do.”
One of the most frequent commentaries about President Obama is that he doesn’t reach out to Republicans so that bi-partisanship can work. For some reason, those same critics seem to have a myopic view of what the POTUS is up against. The GOP leadership (as well as the rank and file members) want nothing more than to stop the president’s agenda at all costs.
This has been going on since day one when several GOP elite gathered together at a restaurant in DC the evening of Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 to map out a plan assuring his failure on every legislative achievement he put forward, according to the book Do Not Ask What Good We Do.
So, once again, the following article speaks to yet more attempts of achieving the goal set forth 4.5 years ago…
But perhaps even more startling is the fact that of those 82 vacant slots, 61 of them don’t even have a nominee.
On its face, the absence of nominees would appear to be a sign that President Barack Obama is slacking. After all, he is responsible for nominating judges, and he did put forward fewer nominees at the end of his first term than his two predecessors. But a closer look at data on judicial nominees, and conversations with people involved in the nomination process, reveals the bigger problem is Republican senators quietly refusing to recommend potential judges in the first place.
The process for moving judicial nominees is simple enough. A president takes the lead on circuit court nominees, while, per longstanding tradition, a senator kickstarts the process for district court nominees, which make up the bulk of the federal court system. Senators make recommendations from their home states, and the president works with them to get at least some of the nominees confirmed – the idea being that senators, regardless of party, are motivated to advocate for nominees from their states. The White House may look at other nominees on its own, but typically won’t move forward without input from the corresponding senators. Once a nominee is submitted to the Senate, he or she receives a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. If approved, the nomination heads to the Senate floor for a full vote.
It’s hardly news that the judicial nomination process is gummed up. Democrats regularly blast Republicans for blocking Obama’s nominees after they clear the Senate Judiciary Committee with broad support, making them wait an average of 116 days for a confirmation vote. That’s three times longer than the average wait for President George W. Bush’s nominees. But these obstacles come at the end of the nomination process. It’s now clear that there’s a serious problem at the beginning, too.
It turns out that since Obama took office, senators from some states — particularly those represented by two Republicans — have simply refused to make recommendations, according to data recently published by the Alliance for Justice, a left-leaning association of more than 100 organizations focused on the federal judiciary.
Take Kansas, for example. The state is represented by Republican Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, neither of whom has put forward nominees for a district court slotthere that has been vacant for 1,246 days. Their inaction hasn’t gone unnoticed — both senators have taken heat for not participating in the nomination process.
Or look at Texas, where Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz have not moved to fill seven vacant judicial slots, two of which have been vacant for 1,733 and 1,034 days, respectively, without a nominee. At least one Texas paper ran a piece suggesting Cornyn and former Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison were holding off on making judicial recommendations because they were hopeful Mitt Romney would become president in 2012.
Senators in several states who voted earlier this month against increasing background checks for gun buyers have since seen their approval ratings noticeably drop, according to new polls released Monday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) net approval rating dropped 16 points, as she shed much of her previous cross-party appeal. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) saw his numbers dive 18 points, from a positive to a negative rating.
Not all of the change can be attributed to the vote. Portman, for instance, saw his approval drop among Republicans when he announced his support for gay marriage in March. But in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada and Ohio, at least 60 percent of voters supported background checks, and many expressed disappointment with politicians who voted otherwise.
Fifty-two percent of Arizona voters said they were less likely to support Sen. Jeff Flake (R) for reelection due to his “no” vote, while 46 percent of Nevadans said the same of Sen. Dean Heller (R). More than a third of voters were less likely to back Portman as well as Alaska Sens. Mark Begich (D) and Murkowski. A previous PPP poll found that Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also saw her ratings tumble 15 points, likely due in part to her vote against background checks.
Much of the lost support comes from independent or moderate voters.
PPP hasn’t yet conducted polling on how senators who supported the bill have fared. But Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who cosponsored background check legislation, saw his approval rating increase by a net 7 points, according to a Quinnipiac University pollreleased Friday.
Nationally, most polls taken since the shooting in Newtown, Conn., have found thatupwards of 80 percent of people support gun background checks, and that there isrelatively little partisan division on the issue.
Opinions were less unified on the actual legislation considered in the Senate, but most still say they wish it had gone through. A 65 percent majority of Americans said the measure should have passed, including 45 percent of Republicans and a majority of Democrats and independents, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.
No S**t Sherlock!
* Former presidents also due to attend dedication
* Memorial service for Texas explosion victims on the agenda
* Fundraiser will aim to help Democrats in midterm elections
U.S. President Barack Obama is in Texas to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with former President George W. Bush in what could serve as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle against terrorism, from the Sept. 11 attacks to the Boston Marathon bombings.
Obama is due to attend the dedication on Thursday of Bush’s presidential library at Southern Methodist University, along with former presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter and hundreds of Bush administration alumni.
While Democrat Obama and Republican Bush have deep political differences, they share a common belief that the United States must defend itself against violent extremism.
The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks defined Bush’s eight years in the White House and last week’s Boston Marathon bombing handed Obama another challenge to homeland security.
Obama, at a Democratic fundraiser soon after he arrived in Dallas on Wednesday night, said he was looking forward to attending the Bush library dedication and that he would project a bipartisan spirit.
“One thing I will insist upon is whatever our political differences, President Bush loves his country and loves its people and…was concerned about all people in America, not just those who voted Republican. I think that’s true about him and I think that’s true about most of us,” Obama said.
Bush told ABC News that the Boston attacks reminded him of his time in the presidency.
“I was deeply concerned that there might’ve been an organized plot,” Bush told ABC News. “I don’t know all the facts… But I was deeply concerned that this could’ve been, you know, another highly organized attack on the country. And it still may be. Again, I don’t know all the facts.”
Certain issues require a common response regardless of political party, said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Center at the University of Southern Illinois.
“They may get to the office as a conservative or a liberal but there are real forces that move them to the pragmatic center on a variety of issues and national security is one of them,” Simon said.
But Obama was also looking to a time when more Democrats could be elected to Congress. His first stop in Dallas was at a fundraiser that brought in $600,000 for the Democratic National Committee at the home of major Democratic donor Naomi Aberly.
It is his third fundraiser this year for his party in the hope that Democrats can wrestle control of the House of Representatives from Republicans and add to the Democrats’ Senate majority in 2014 midterm elections.
Without adding Democratic seats, Obama may find it difficult to overcome Republican opposition to many of the priorities of his second term, such as closing tax loopholes enjoyed mostly by the wealthy and stricter gun control.
“Washington is not, how should I put this charitably, it’s not as functional as it could be,” Obama said.
Still, he told the Democratic donors, he plans to keep talking to Republicans as he has in recent weeks to try to find common ground, even though “some of you may think I’m a sap” for doing so.
Thursday’s dedication of Bush’s library and museum has put Bush, the 43rd U.S. president, back in the limelight he has largely avoided since leaving office in January 2009.
At the time, the United States was laboring under the burden of two wars and a collapsed economy. Bush’s approval rating at the time was 33 percent. A Washington Post-ABC poll this week put his approval rating at 47 percent, basically equal to Obama’s.
The museum exhibits cover major points of Bush’s presidency and offer visitors an opportunity to decide how they would have responded to those challenges.
A central feature of the museum concerns the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
Obama has found himself pursuing some of the same policies that Bush began, such using drones on military targets and trying to overhaul U.S. immigration laws.
Obama is expected to speak at the dedication along with the former presidents.
“Regardless of the times when they served and their political and policy differences, there is a commonality of experience that the president believes binds them together,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
After visiting Bush in Dallas on Thursday, Obama is scheduled to attend a memorial service at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for the 14 people killed when a fertilizer plant exploded last week in West, Texas. (Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Karey Van Hall, Toni Reinhold and Lisa Shumaker)
I don’t often agree with former GOP Senator Alan Simpson but in this instance, he is spot on…
Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) has never shied away from turning his trademark brand of colorful rhetoric on his own party, and on Thursday he did so again, in a scathing examination of the Republican approach on social issues.
In an interview published in the Los Angeles Times, Simpson, who has weighed in prominently on fiscal issues in recent years, blasted the trend of old, white Republican males feeling compelled to legislate on abortion.
“[It's] a hideous thing. It’s terrible,” Simpson said of the medical procedure. “But it’s a deeply intimate and personal thing. … Men legislators shouldn’t even vote on it.”
Simpson also called out what he saw as a “homophobic strain in our party,” and accused members of the GOP of following a social agenda that was inconsistent with their broader political ideology.
“You’re a Republican, you believe in get-out-of-your-life and the precious right to privacy, the right to be left alone,” Simpson said. “Well then, pal, I don’t care what you do. You can go worship the Great Eel at night, I don’t give a rat’s … . But don’t mess with me and don’t then go take a position I have and wrap religion around it.”
Simpson has expressed similar disagreements with Republicans on social issues in the past. In 2011, he targeted intolerance in the party, suggesting that it often ended up being a hypocritical display of hate.
“But I’m not sticking with people who are homophobic, anti-women, you know, moral values while you’re diddling your secretary while you’re giving a speech on moral values,” he said. “Come on. Get off of it.”