U.S. Politics

Hypocritical Chris Christie Questions President Obama’s Faith

obama-christie
attribution: NONE SPECIFIED

POLITICUS USA

Time Magazine’s Zeke Miller tweeted something interesting yesterday:

If, like me, you’ve kept track of the surly, bullying Christie, your eyebrows immediately went up and you said, or at least thought, “Oh really?”

After all, in 2010 Christie announced,

“When you guys ask me questions, I’m going to answer them directly, straightly, bluntly, and nobody in New Jersey is going to have to wonder where I am on an issue. I think they’ve had enough of politicians who make them wonder … They make them wonder so they got an escape hatch. So they have an escape hatch. And I’m not interested in an escape hatch.”

Yet, when push comes to shove, Christie is the guy, of course, who thinks its none of your business what he thinks or believes. Like when asked if he “believes” in evolution or creationism back in May of 2011, just a year after bragging he would answer all questions, he ran right for the escape hatch:

“That’s not of your business, that’s my personal view — none of your business.”

And this isn’t the first or only time Christie has taken the “none of your business” stance. In 2011, he told a constituent – and not to put too fine a point on it, a voter – the same thing in response to a fair and honest question about education funding:

In 2014, as MSNBC’s Steve Benen pointed out, it was the escape hatch again: “The New Jersey governor was eager to condemn President Obama for working through a counter-terrorism policy in Syria. Asked what he’d do differently, Christie said he didn’t want to talk about it.”

And, Benen noted, “He won’t even reiterate support for public remarks he’s already made. Why? Because he says so.”

Why does Chris Christie – a public figure and an elected official like President Obama, get to have personal views he doesn’t have to share with others? You can be we are not allowed to question Christie’s beliefs, even if we can figure out what they are.

Obama, on the other hand, has been pretty open about what he believes. When his thinking changed on Marriage Equality, we were part of that process. His thinking evolved right in front of the American public and was about as transparent as can be. He was ready and willing to share it with us, both before, during, and after.

At a speech he gave in 2006, Obama said he’d “like to talk about the connection between religion and politics and perhaps offer some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often bitter arguments that we’ve been seeing over the last several years.”

I do so because, as you all know, we can affirm the importance of poverty in the Bible; and we can raise up and pass out this Covenant for a New America. We can talk to the press, and we can discuss the religious call to address poverty and environmental stewardship all we want, but it won’t have an impact unless we tackle head-on the mutual suspicion that sometimes exists between religious America and secular America.

Chris Christie is a Catholic, and by all accounts he doesn’t agree with Catholic doctrine 100% of the time. Far from tackling things head-on, it is tough to tell exactly what he believes, because as comedian Jimmy Dore says of the New Jersey governor, “He’s duplicitous, he’s hypocritical, he’s self-serving, he’s every horrible thing you hate about a politician.”

In other words, he’s not one to talk about Obama. In 2012 he vetoed Marriage Equality legislation in New Jersey, but he has said that he doesn’t think being gay is a sin or even a choice, which is not what his religion teaches.

In a sit down with Laura Ingraham last year, he told the conservative radio host and author that he would never back down for his beliefs, that he would fight for them. Which is great, if we can figure out what they are.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Lisa Fleisher claimed in 2011, “For the most part, Christie’s message has been budgetary, not ideological” but this was patently untrue then and remains so now. There is nothing not ideological about Christie’s stance on school funding, or on abortion.

He says he is against abortion. He told Ingraham he ran as an anti-abortion candidate and “I care about fighting the fights that are worth fighting. People make certain assumptions because you’re from New Jersey. What they should do is look at my record.”

So he cares about the fights that are worth fighting, but he won’t tell us up front if he thinks a fight is worth fighting – like evolution. He says states should decide but whatever he wants us to believe, it is important what he believes. And if it isn’t, why is it important to know what Obama believes?

He told Ingraham, “You don’t change your mind,” which is maybe a stab at Obama for changing his, but I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who was incapable of changing his mind in the face of new information. There is nothing praiseworthy in being a hidebound ideologue and with his thinking on “sin” he wants us to believe he is not one of those, apparently, yet in other ways, that’s exactly how he behaves, and what he sounds like.

At the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in 2014 Christie told the faithful he was pro-life:

What we did in the campaign was to speak very frankly to people about the sanctity of life, and how I believe that every life is a gift from God that’s precious and must be protected. I told people from New Jersey that I knew many who would consider voting for me disagreed with me on this issue, but that they had a right to know what’s in my heart because when you know what’s in someone’s heart, you have a window into how they’ll lead.

Even he admitted, right there in front of God and everybody, how important it is to know what’s in someone’s heart. So why is it he will share this bit of his heart, and not his thinking on evolution vs. creationism?

When Chris Christie comes clean about where he stands, about his own core beliefs, then he will be in a position to question the beliefs of others. That day will never come, of course, because as the comedian says, he is duplicitous and self-serving and can be trusted any further than he can be thrown.

Obama and Christie are a study in contrasts. One is intelligent, well-spoken, and even-tempered. The other is rude, bullying, and hot-headed. If there is a moral high ground in politics, it is not to be found in New Jersey, and certainly nowhere in the vicinity of the New Jersey governor.

And I won’t even bother reminding the Catholic Christie of what Jesus said about casting the first stone because if I asked him if he remembered that passage, he would just tell me it’s none of my business.

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: October 31, 2015

Dmitry Lovetsky/Associated Press

THE WEEK

1. U.S. to deploy special-ops forces in Syria to fight ISIS
President Obama will deploy a small number of special operations forces to Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Syria as part of its effort to fight the Islamic State, the White House announced Friday, framing it as an enhancement of current strategy. Obama had long been opposed to putting boots on the ground. Up to 50 troops will be assisting and advising moderate rebels. More than a dozen parties involved in the Syrian conflict, including the U.S. and Russia, agreedFriday to work toward a cease-fire.

Source: The Guardian, CNN

2. Russian plane crash over Egypt kills all 224 passengers
A Russian airplane carrying 224 passengers that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula early Saturday left no survivors, officials said. The pilot of the plane, which was headed from the Egyptian resort area Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, Russia, had reportedly requested an emergency landing before losing contact about 23 minutes after takeoff. There are no signs so far the Airbus A-321 was shot down, Russian news outlets reported.

Source: CNN, The New York Times

3. White House won’t release emails between Obama, Clinton
The White House will not release emails exchanged between President Obama and Hillary Clinton from her time as secretary of state until Obama leaves office, an official from his administration reportedly saidFriday. The State Department has been releasing the Democratic presidential frontrunner’s emails in batches under a court order amid public scrutiny over her use of a private email server while in office. The State Department released 4,400 more Clinton emails Friday, including messages she had sent and received.

Source: Reuters, The Los Angeles Times

4. RNC suspends NBC partnership for February debate
Responding to Wednesday’s highly criticized Republican primary debate on CNBC, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus penned an open letter to parent network NBC, calling off their debate at the University of Houston on Feb. 26. “The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith,” the letter read. Priebus officially suspended the RNC’s partnership with NBC News and its properties, although his letter explains the party still “fully intends” to hold a Feb. 26 debate.

Source: Republican National Committee

5. Jeb Bush campaign loses chief operating officer
Jeb Bush’s already struggling presidential campaign suffered yet another blow Friday when its chief operating officer, Christine Ciccone, left her role. The departure comes just one week after the campaign announced it was slashing its payroll by 40 percent and downsizing its Miami headquarters. The former Florida governor, once thought to be the Republican frontrunner, floundered in the party’s CNBC debateWednesday, grabbing less speaking time than any other candidate.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

6. Obama says goodbye to Boehner: ‘Man, I’m gonna miss you’
In a teary exit interview with Fox News on Friday, the outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recounted his farewell to President Obama. Obama said, “Boehner, man, I’m gonna miss you,” according to Boehner. His reply: “Yes, you are, Mr. President. Yes, you are.” The two spent years clashing over everything from ObamaCare to the debt ceiling to immigration. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was elected to take over as speaker Thursday.

Source: Fox News

7. At least 27 dead in Romanian nightclub fire
A fire in a Romanian nightclub killed at least 27 people and injured 184 during a rock concert late Friday in the nation’s capital, officials said. The death toll may rise, and 146 people are still hospitalized, said Raed Arafat, Romania’s deputy interior minister. The crowd of 400 stampeded toward the Bucharest basement club’s exit when a pillar and the ceiling caught fire, and then an explosion was heard, witnesses said. The concert reportedly featured fireworks.

Source: Reuters

8. Poland rejects U.S. extradition request for director Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski, the Oscar-winning director behind Rosemary’s Baby,Chinatown, and The Pianist, will not be extradited to the U.S. from Poland, a Polish court ruled Friday. Polanski pleaded guilty to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles in 1977, when he was 43; he served 42 days in a state prison before fleeing to France, where he has been living. Polanski, who is a dual French-Polish citizen, was visiting Poland to make a film when the U.S. made its extradition request.

Source: NPR

9. ESPN shutters Grantland
ESPN pulled the plug Friday on its sports and culture site Grantland, five months after the network split with the founding editor, Bill Simmons. “We have decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise,” ESPN wrote. During its four-year run, Grantland was known for its sharp blend of sportswriting, longform journalism, and pop culture pieces. Writers will have their contracts honored on other ESPN platforms, the network said.

Source: ESPN

10. Mets top Royals 9-3 in World Series Game 3
Led by gutsy pitching from rookie Noah Syndergaard and four RBIs from captain David Wright, the New York Mets topped the Kansas City Royals on Friday night. The best-of-7 contest continues in Queens at8:07 p.m. on Saturday. Stephen Matz, a New York native, will look to even the World Series at 2 when he takes the mound against the Royals’ Chris Young.

Source: The New York Times

Julie Kliegman

U.S. Politics

The right turns on Paul Ryan: Yesterday’s conservative savior is today’s moderate wimp

The right turns on Paul Ryan: Yesterday's conservative savior is today's moderate wimp
(Credit: J. Scott Applewhite)

SALON

In 2012, he was hailed by the likes of Rush and Glenn Beck. But in today’s GOP, no wingnut is ever radical enough

This article originally appeared on Media Matters.

When newly-elected Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was picked by Mitt Romney to be his running mate in 2012, right-wing media were ecstatic. Cheered by Ryan’s sterling conservative credentials, far right commentators celebrated that one of their own has been added to the ticket.

Rush Limbaugh: “I don’t remember a vice presidential pick that has so energized a campaign as this choice of Paul Ryan.”

Glenn Beck: “Mitt Romney has picked a solid, smart conservative for his vice-presidential running mate.”

Laura Ingraham: “More than anything today, we need a man with courage and clear-thinking. Ryan has both.”

Mark Levin: “Paul Ryan is an excellent VP choice.”

Fast forward just three years and those same commentators are now raising doubts about Ryan, when not outright trashing him in public. Ryan’s sudden sin?  Not being sufficiently conservative; not passing the purity test.

Limbaugh: “This whole Ryan thing hasn’t made any sense to me from the first moment I heard about it.”

Beck: “The ‘fix’ the republic needs is Paul Ryan? The man who never met a bailout he didn’t like? A man who asked to be made king? 100% support and you can’t vote him out? Your solution is MORE POWER FOR THE SPEAKER?!?!?!?”

Levin: “NOT SO FAST! Paul Ryan an amnesty advocate”

Ingraham: “From misrepresenting the outrageous Fast Track &TPP to amnesty & foreign workers, list of demands, Ryan’s possibly the worst Spkr choice.”

Ryan’s amazing free-fall from grace seems to be part of a larger race to the radical right, not only among powerful forces with the Republican Party, which now seem to be fundamentally opposed to governing and legislating, but also within key portions of the right-wing media. There seems to be a mini-stampede underway towards an extremist destination rarely seen in mainstream American politics. And for parts of the conservative media that means now demonizing former heroes like Paul Ryan.

“Conservative talk show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, have already denounced him as a dangerous moderate,” according to Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times. “Tea party organizations are already raising money from supporters with appeals to stop any more Ryanesque budget deals.”

One of the many layers of irony here is that in 2012, the right-wing media defendedRyan from Democraticclaims that he was too far to the right and outside of the mainstream. Today, many conservative commentators are attacking Ryan for not being far enough to the right.

Yet “Ryan hasn’t undergone any sort of David Brockian-type worldview change that would warrant labeling him an apostate,” wrote conservative Matt Lewis at The Daily Beast. He added that while “Ryan’s voting record has its blemishes,” Ryan would “certainly be the most conservative Speaker of the House in modern history.”

Esquire agrees:

He still believes in privatizing social security and Medicare. He still believes that social programs are a “hammock.” He still believes that the Social Security survivor benefits that he and his family received throughout his adolescence cause dependency on other people and their families.

A portion of the conservative press, of course, has never been in love with an establishment-type players like Jeb Bush, so his lack of support this year hasn’t been surprising. But Paul Ryan? He’s “the Republican party’s intellectual leader” as The Weekly Standard once touted. The conservative press could barely contain its universal glee when Ryan got the VP nod just three years ago. ‘He’s one of us,’ seemed to be the collective cheer.

“Fox News, the most powerful right-wing media outlet in the country, has spent years praising Ryan as a ‘star,’ a ‘genius,’ and a man of ‘courage,’” Media Matters noted in 2012.

Today, the insults pile high:

-“He is the wrong man at the wrong time.”  [American Thinker]

-“Paul Ryan represents one of the absolute worst outcomes for conservatives.” [Conservative Review]

-“Despite his portrayal by the media as being conservative, most actual conservatives in the House know that Ryan isn’t a conservative.” [Breitbart]

Breitbart, in particular, has become a clearinghouse of often-inaccurate analysis regarding Ryan, such as claiming the Republican’s bid for the speakership had recently collapsed. Breitbart even warned readers that Media Matters “has Paul Ryan’s back,” as proof the Republican cannot be trusted.

In a sign of how fractured and radical the conservative movement has become, it appears fewer and fewer media players have Ryan’s back. Even though they cheered him as a savior in 2012.

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of “Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush.”
H/t: DB
U.S. Politics

Ben Carson doesn’t hate gays hard enough for Tony Perkins

AMERICA BLOG

Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahaha.

You guys, remember how during the Republican debate on Wednesday Ben Carson got asked to reconcile his flagrantly anti-gay views with the fact that he was on the Costco’s and Kellogg’s board while the company was implementing some rather pro-equality company policies?

The audience booed the question. The LGBT community rolled its eyes. And Tony Perkins apparently did a spit take at how unacceptably pro-gay Carson’s answer was.

Yep, really. From Reuters:

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

“I think he has to explain this,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Christian conservative lobbying group Family Research Council. “As he is pursuing the presidency, what he has to make clear is that the board positions should not be reflective of his public policy.”

Perkins and other conservative leaders say they fear that some of the changes at American corporations could be used to punish employees with unpopular political views. They worry, for instance, that workers who do not support same-sex marriage could be found in violation of anti-discrimination policies.

That Ben Carson — who thinks being gay is a choice, same-sex marriage caused the fall of the Roman Empire and ex-gay conversion therapy isn’t all that bad — is somehow not homophobic enough for Tony Perkins is so, so cute.

Because for Perkins, it isn’t enough to protect people’s deeply-held religious beliefs. In order to earn his vote, you have to prove that you have worked to make life more difficult for LGBT people in both public and private capacities.

Never mind the fact that Costco and Kellogg’s are now considered two of the best brands in the country precisely because of the strong LGBT protections they put in place while Carson was on the board — such as banning discrimination based on gender identity and providing health insurance for employees’ same-sex partners — Perkins is a thousand percent sure that discrimination was and always will be a necessary and good business decision.

And everyone else is a thousand percent sure that he’s wrong.

(h/t Towleroad)

H/t: DB

U.S. Politics

The 3 People Being Prosecuted For Voter Fraud In Kansas

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach testifies during a meeting of a legislative study committee on election issues, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, at the Statehouse in Topeka | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOHN HANNA

THINK PROGRESS

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a notorious voter suppression architect, is the only election official in the country with prosecutorial power. He secured that authority earlier this year, the latest step in his crusade to go after what he views as rampant voter fraud throughout his state.

Earlier this month, he filed his first criminal charges. The targets: three people he says committed voter fraud in the 2010 election.

Research shows that new voting restrictions enacted by states across the country prevents voters — particularly minorities and younger citizens — from casting ballots. And according to the Brennan Center for Justice, voter fraud is a non-issue and most alleged fraud in elections relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators.

But Kobach would disagree. To him, the three people he’s decided to prosecute have committed a “serious crime.” One is convicted of a felony, meaning he faces up to seven months in prison. Two others face misdemeanor charges.

Some information about these potential convicts:

Steven Gaedtke and Betty Gaedtke

Steven Gaedtke, 60, and Betty Gaedtke, 61 have been charged with misdemeanors for allegedly voting in both Kansas and Arkansas during the 2010 general election. Steven, a Vietnam veteran, and Betty, a volunteer domestic violence educator, built a cabin in Arkansas when they retired. In 2010, the couple applied for advance ballots in Kansas and submitted them. But at the time, they were traveling back and forth between Kansas and their new cabin in Arkansas, and they also voted in person in Arkansas. Because 2010 was not a presidential election year, the Gaedtkes did not understand that they were doing anything wrong because they weren’t voting for the same candidates twice.

“It was a stressful time for them and in the confusion they made a mistake,” Trey Pettlon, their attorney, told the Kansas City Star. “They didn’t intend to do anything illegal. They have a long track record of being good citizens.”

The Gaedtkes’ case will be heard in court on December 3.

Lincoln L. Wilson

The felony complaint filed against 64-year-old Lincoln L. Wilson alleges that he voted in 2010, 2012, and 2014 in Kansas despite not being lawfully registered, according to the Wichita Eagle. Wilson, who lives part time in both Kansas and Colorado, admitted to voting in both states.

“But I know for a fact that I only voted for one president,” Wilson told the Eagle. “The issues in Kansas that I vote for would’ve been for that general election, such as property tax … and if I voted for a senator or a representative in the state of Kansas, that would have nothing to do with a senator or a representative in the state of Colorado.”

Wilson said he did not understand that he could not vote in two states because neither state’s voter registration form was a federal form. He thought he could only vote in one county in each of his home states.

Wilson, who said he was shocked to find out he was being prosecuted, will appear in court for the first time on November 3. He faces three counts of election perjury.

***

Kobach told the Eagle that “the evidence in both cases is very strong that the individuals in question intentionally voted multiple times in the same election.”

Since taking office in 2011, Kobach has attempted to purge the state’s voter rolls and pushed for the enactment of a voter ID law. He says he has identified 100 cases of potential voting in the 2014 election — a tiny percentage of the total number of votes cast — and sought prosecutorial power because he claimed district attorneys did not have the time or resources to adequately prosecute these crimes.

Kobach, who spearheaded many draconian anti-immigrant laws including Arizona’s SB 1070, has also aimed voter suppression efforts at immigrants. He enacted a law in 2013 requiring people to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote and created a list of roughly 12,000suspended voter registration forms in the first few months. But after a year, he admitted that more than one-third of the 20,000 voters whose registrations were suspended were actually eligible voters.

KIRA LERNER

H/t: DB

U.S. Politics

CNBC Created the Tea Party. Now the Right Wants to Destroy the Network

Debate moderators Carl Quintanilla, left, Becky Quick, center, and John Harwood appear during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo.
Mark J. Terrill/AP

THE DAILY BEAST

The business network has become enemy number one for the Republican Party, but one of its star reporters is often credited with launching the Tea Party movement six years ago.

After Wednesday’s debacle of a debate, CNBC is now the most-hated cable network among conservatives. The fury has grown so intense that on Friday the Republican National Committee broke off its partnership with NBC News for an upcoming February debate hosted by the news titan.

Fun fact: Six years ago, CNBC started the Tea Party movement.

On February 24, 2009, while reporting for Squawk Box from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Rick Santelli (who was briefly featured during Wednesday’s debate) went on a dramatic rant against President Obama’s Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan, a stimulus package aimed at helping homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

“The government is promoting bad behavior,” he said. “How about this, president and new administration, why don’t you put up a website to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages.”

Santelli drew rapturous applause from the floor traders—the “silent majority,” as he described them—when he added that the government should “reward people that can carry the water instead of drink the water.”

A true showman in his element, Santelli then turned around to face his audience. “This is America!” he shouted. “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?” The traders erupted in boos.

The moment read like something straight out of the many Tea Party rallies seen during the 2010 election season.

“President Obama, are you listening?” Santelli boomed. “We’re thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July,” he continued. “All you capitalists show up to Lake Michigan, I’m going to start organizing.”

Further cementing what would become the Tea Party’s dominant motif, Santelli added, “I’ll tell you what: If you read our Founding Fathers—people like Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson—what we’re doing in this country now is making them roll over in their graves.”

And so history was written. Santelli’s call to verbal arms was echoed by conservative commentators and leading activist groups like FreedomWorks, who made the video their rallying cry.

Organizers shifted into gear and within 10 days of Santelli’s theatrics, the first official Tea Party rallies were held in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and other cities. A year-and-a-half later, Tea Party candidates won 40 U.S. House elections, taking back power from the Democratic Party.

And conservatives have CNBC to thank.

Andrew Kirell

H/t: DB

U.S. Politics

Marco Rubio Thought Nobody Would Find These 4 Skeletons In His Closet

Marco Rubio's ugliest moment: The mean-spirited ultimatum that showed the 2016 contender's true colors
(Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

ADDICTING INFO

At the Republican presidential debate on CNBC earlier this week, Senator Marco Rubio dismissed a series of questions about some serious skeletons in his closet as “discredited attacks.” But in reality Rubio’s history of mismanaging money and financial troubles will come to trouble him, either in the Republican primaries or if he survives and becomes the party’s nominee.

Politifact took issue with Rubio’s casual dismissal of the controversy, and rated his description of them as “false”:

Rubio’s response was to dismiss all of Quick’s examples as partisan smear tactics.

“Well, you just listed a litany of discredited attacks from Democrats and my political opponents, and I’m not gonna waste 60 seconds detailing them all,” he said. He then went on to detail his blue-collar upbringing with immigrant parents.

The response made us pause, because we wondered what had been “discredited” about Rubio’s widely reported financial mishaps. In this context, “discredited” means the things Quick said are not true or accurate.

Here’s what Rubio did that will cause Republican and general election voters to take pause before they pull the lever for the telegenic right-winger:

  1. When he was in the Florida legislature, Rubio commingled his personal finances with the finances if his political committees. A newspaper investigation found that Rubio paid his wife Jeanette $5,700 for “gas and meals” while giving his relatives another $14,000
  2. Rubio charged thousands of dollars worth of restaurant meals to a credit card issued to him by the Republican Party of Florida while the cost of his meals was being covered by Florida taxpayers
  3. Rubio bought a house in Tallahassee, Florida with his pal state Rep. David Rivera. Rivera failed to make mortgage payments on the house, and was sued by Deutsche Bank for $136,000 as foreclosure proceedings began, soon to be stopped by a quick payment from Rivera. Rivera ended up in an ethics investigation and Rubio shoved him out of his inner circle as he sought more power in Florida and on the national stage.
  4. Rubio claims that he can run the entire country’s finances, but he can’t seem to keep his own house in order. He liquidated a $68,000 retirement fund in 2014, costing himself thousands n taxes and penalties – apparently because he needed access to the cash despite his $174,000 Senate salary. When he was asked about this by Fox News, Rubio said he needed the money to replace an air conditioning unit and for “college” for his children (his oldest child is 15, the others are 13, 10, and 8)

Politifact looked at Rubio’s skeletons and concluded, “All of these events happened and have been well-documented. It’s not accurate for Rubio to refer to the issues as ‘discredited,’ whether his opponents have used them to attack him or not.”

Nice try, Senator.

U.S. Politics

NBC’s big fight with the Republican Party, explained

VOX – By 

Republicans fumed this week over what they saw as CNBC moderators’ biased and disrespectful treatment of the GOP presidential field at the candidates’ third debate Wednesday night. During the debate, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and other candidates blasted the moderators for their hostile questions, earning cheers from the mostly Republican audience.

On Friday, the Republican Party played its trump card: It threatened to cancel a Republican primary debate, hosted by NBC-owned Telemundo, that’s currently scheduled for February and let another media organization host the event instead. In a scathing letter, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus accused the moderators of engaging “in a series of ‘gotcha’ questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates.”

Not everyone agrees with these charges. Vox’s Ezra Klein, for example, argues that the moderators were just doing their jobs: “The problem for Republicans is that substantive questions about their policy proposals end up sounding like hostile attacks — but that’s because the policy proposals are ridiculous, not because the questions are actually unfair.”

But Republicans see things differently. In their view, the questions weren’t just tough but downright hostile. And they’re using their control over the Republican debate schedule to pressure NBC — and other mainstream media outlets hosting debates — to treat their candidates with more respect.

The GOP says the moderators were biased against Republican candidates

It’s the moderators’ job to ask tough but fair questions that will help to illuminate differences between the candidates and help voters decide which candidate to support. Conservative critics argue that in Wednesday night’s debate the moderators nailed the “tough” part, but they forgot about the fair part:

  • Moderator John Harwood listed some of Donald Trump’s less plausible campaign positions — such as a plan to build a wall along the southern border and make Mexico pay for it — and then asked, “Let’s be honest. Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”
  • CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla mentioned that Marco Rubio had sponsored an immigration bill that “conservatives in your party hate and even you don’t support anymore,” and added, “Now you’re skipping more votes than any senator to run for president. Why not slow down, get a few more things done first, and at least finish what you start?”
  • Addressing Jeb Bush, Harwood asserted, “The fact that you’re at the fifth lectern tonight shows how far your stock has fallen.” He continued: “Ben Bernanke said he no longer considers himself a Republican because the Republican Party has given into know-nothingism. Is that why you’re having a difficult time in this race?”

These questions don’t seem calculated to elicit thoughtful responses from the candidates so much as to telegraph the moderators’ disdain for the candidates or — in the case of the last question — the Republican party as a whole.

“The media works from the unspoken assumption that Democrats are normal while Republicans aren’t,” National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote after the debate. “Many mainstream media journalists think asking tough, even unfair, questions of Republicans is their job. They’re congratulated for it by the media critics and by Democratic activists who are often friends or even spouses of the reporters.”

While most of the complaints about the debate came from the political right, even some non-conservatives were put off by the moderators’ behavior. “CNBC showed us how to conduct a debate unburdened by a shred of respect,” late-night host Stephen Colbert said.

Attacking the moderators was a crowd-pleasing move at the debate

The Republican-leading crowd cheered every time candidates attacked moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood. (Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
The Republican-leading crowd cheered every time candidates attacked moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood | (Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

The candidates onstage didn’t appreciate the steady drumbeat of negativity from the moderators’ table, and a lot of Republican voters shared the sentiment. After all, most Republicans — who are, after all, the people the moderators are supposed to be serving — expect to vote for one of the candidates on stage. In recent weeks at least a quarter of voters have told pollsters they plan to vote for Donald Trump, suggesting that they don’t regard his campaign as cartoonish. The way the questions were framed seemed to confirm conservative suspicions that the moderators were hostile not only to particular candidates but to the conservative movement in general.

So the Republican candidates took every opportunity to hit back at the moderators. The most crowd-pleasing counterattack came from Ted Cruz, who lashed out at the string of one-sided questions he’d heard so far in the debate.

“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz said. “This is not a cage match. You look at the questions — Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues?”

Of course, these paraphrases aren’t quite accurate — Harwood suggested Trump was running a cartoonish campaign, not that he was a cartoon villain, for example — but the crowd roared its approval nonetheless.

Later, Harwood twice interrupted Chris Christie as he tried to answer a question about his stance on global warming. “I got to tell you the truth, even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude,” Christie shot back.

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U.S. Politics

Cruz, Huckabee And Jindal Will Join Pastor Who Wants Gays Put To Death

attribution: NONE SPECIFIED

RIGHT WING WATCH

The organizer of the “National Religious Liberties Conference” in Des Moines, Iowa, announced today that Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal have committed to speaking at the summit, which will take place next month. One speaker at the conference, Iowa radio host Steve Deace, has said that Ben Carson has also RSVP’d for the event, although Carson’s name was not included in today’s press release.

Kevin Swanson, the conference’s chief organizer, is a far-right pastor and host of the “Generations Radio” program, on which he has frequently claimed that the government should put gay people to death, warned that the Girl Scouts and the movie “Frozen” turn girls into lesbians and blamed natural disasters on gay people and women who wear pants.

We have documented Swanson’s radical record in great detail, including his tirades against William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Desmond Tutu and Taylor Swift.

Swanson on homosexuality:

  • Defended a Ugandan measure to make homosexuality a criminal offense punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty, saying he was glad the country was “standing strong” by adopting extreme anti-gay laws.

And there’s more!

  • Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina were divine punishments of “pro-homosexual” cities.
  • Homosexuality is a “disease.”

Swanson on women:

  • Helping women in Kenya own their own cows will “obliterate” the family.

Swanson on pop culture:

  • Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry sing “demon songs.”

Swanson on other topics:

Brian Tashman

H/t:DB

U.S. Politics

Welcome to our new plutocracy: Citizens United has effectively destroyed the First Amendment

Welcome to our new plutocracy: Citizens United has effectively destroyed the First Amendment
(Credit: CNN)

SALON

In today’s so-called “democratic” election process, Big Money doesn’t talk, it roars — usually drowning out the people’s voice.

Bizarrely, the Supreme Court decreed in its 2010 Citizens United ruling that money is a form of “free speech.” Thus, declared the learned justices, people and corporations are henceforth allowed to spend unlimited sums of their money to “speak” in election campaigns. But wait — if political speech is measured by money then by definition speech is not free. It can be bought, thereby giving the most speech to the few with the most money. That’s plutocracy, not democracy.

Sure enough, in the first six months of this presidential election cycle, more than half of the record-setting $300 million given to the various candidates came from only 358 mega-rich families and the corporations they control. The top 158 of them totaled $176 million in political spending, meaning that, on average, each one of them bought more than a million dollars’ worth of “free” speech.

Nearly all of their money is backing Republican presidential hopefuls who promise: (1) to cut taxes on the rich; (2) cut regulations that protect us from corporate pollution and other abuses of the common good; and (3) to cut Social Security, food stamps and other safety-net programs that we un-rich people need. The great majority of Americans adamantly oppose all of those cuts — but none of us has a million bucks to buy an equivalent amount of political “free” speech.

It’s not just cuts to taxes, regulations and some good public programs that are endangered by the Court’s ridiculous ruling, but democracy itself. That’s why a new poll by Bloomberg Politics found that 78 percent of the American people — including 80 percent of Republicans — want to overturn Citizens United. But those 358 families, corporations and Big Money politicos will have none of it. In fact, America’s inane, Big Money politics have become so prevalent in this election cycle that — believe it or not — candidates have found a need for yet another campaign consultant.

Already, candidates are walled off from people, reality and any honesty about themselves by a battalion of highly specialized consultants controlling everything from stances to hairstyle. But now comes a whole new category of staff to add to the menagerie: “donor maintenance manager.”

The Supreme Court’s malevolent Citizens United decision has produced an insidious platinum class of mega-donors and corporate super PACs, each pumping $500,000, $5 million, $50 million — or even more — into campaigns. These elites are not silent donors, but boisterous, very special interests who are playing in the new, Court-created political money game for their own gain. Having paid to play, they feel entitled to tell candidates what to say and do, what to support and oppose. A Jeb Bush insider confirms that mega-donors have this attitude: “Donors consider a contribution like, ‘Well, wait, I just invested in you. Now I need to have my say; you need to answer to me.’”

Thus, campaigns are assigning donor maintenance managers to be personal concierges to meet every need and whim of these special ones. This subservience institutionalizes the plutocratic corruption of our democratic elections, allowing a handful of super-rich interests to buy positions of overbearing influence directly inside campaigns.

Donors at the million-dollar-and-up level are expecting much more than a tote bag for their “generous gifts” of “free speech.” Of course, candidates piously proclaim, “I’m not for sale.” But politicians are just the delivery service. The actual products being bought through the Supreme Court’s Money-O-Rama political bazaar are our government’s policies, tax breaks and other goodies — as well as the integrity of America’s democratic process. To help fight the injustice of the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling and get Big Money out of our political system, go towww.FreeSpeechForPeople.org.

H/t: DB