“Jade Helm 15” is a planned military exercise slated to take place across the Southwest this summer, orchestrated by the Pentagon.
But to conspiracy theorists on the far right, it’s the planned takeover of Texas by the federal government. Walmart’s even involved, or so the paranoid fantasy goes, closing five of its stores to use as food-distribution centers and house invaders from China. Oh, and each of these Walmarts is also connected to one another by secret underground tunnels (Matthew Yglesias at Vox has a full explanation of the Jade Helm 15 Conspiracy.)
Rachel Maddow sees the fate of the Republican Party in the 2016 election writ large in the Jade Helm 15 controversy.
“This is one of those issues that is hilarious to the real world but is totally serious business in Republican world,” Maddow said on her show Wednesday night.
Maddow went on to point out the irony of accusing the military and Walmart — two institutions more often venerated than not on the right — of conspiracy, then said the Jade Helm 15 controversy has nonetheless made it into mainstream Republican politics.
“To most Republican politicians, particularly those competing for the Republican presidential nomination, where only Republican base voters will decide who’s allowed to run, if you have a choice between seeming insane to normal people and seeming righteous to the base, which are you going to pick?” Maddow said.
“There’s an incentive to pick seeming righteous to the base even if it is seeming nutty to everybody else,” she added.
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.
A vast majority of Republicans say they would not be able to live off the current federal minimum wage, but they still don’t support raising it, according to a new poll released Tuesday.
The research, conducted by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling, finds 69% of Republicans say they don’t think it’s feasible for them to make a living off the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. And the feeling is bipartisan with 80% of Democrats and 74% of Independents sharing the same sentiment.
However, it does not appear to change the GOP’s stance. According to the poll, just 37% of Republicans say they support a raise to the minimum wage; nearly 3 in 4 Democrats back a hike. Overall, more than half of the respondents, 54%, back President Obama’s proposal for a higher minimum wage.
Strong Democratic support for raising the minimum wage is not surprising. In April, Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would have raised the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but it failed, 54-42. The proposal needed 60 votes needed to move forward. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) was the only member of the GOP to break ranks and support the measure. Even if the Senate vote has succeeded, the future of any Democratic-proposed bill to raise the minimum wage had a dismal outlook. House Republican leaders have said they would not debate legislation unless it included job training programs.
Some 28 million American workers would have seen more money in their paychecks if Congress would approve an increase to the minimum wage, according to Sen. Tom Harkin’s office – the lead sponsor of this year’s bill. Sen. Harkin’s office also says the federal government would save $4.6 billion annually from people no longer relying on food stamps.
The poll findings comes after the launch of a new campaign, “Live the Wage,” which challenges lawmakers to literally live off the minimum wage. Former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-OH), now president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has so far been joined by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Keith Ellison (D-MN). Americans United for Change, the group behind the move, are asking top Republicans, namely House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to join, but the lawmakers have not yet responded.
Data released last week from the Labor Department contradicts a long-held Republican view that raising the minimum wage can deter job growth and stunt small businesses. Job growth has risen by.85% in the 13 states where lawmakers upped the minimum wage this year, while the average in the other 37 states is .61%. But economists say the increase in the minimum wage is likely just one of many factors that contributed to job growth and not the sole factor in the job market spur.
The PPP poll surveyed 801 registered voters from July 18 to July 20. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.
It’s no secret that when it comes to the attack in Benghazi, Republicans have done just about everything they possibly can to keep this “story” in the news. And time and time again their ridiculous conspiracy theories pertaining to the attacks that happened nearly two years ago have been soundly debunked. Their most recent push to keep this “story” relevant has been reduced to an email they discovered pertaining to talking points that were used in the days immediately following the attack.
That’s what this recent flare up within the conservative media is all about. What talking points was Susan Rice given by White House officials just after the attack in Benghazi?. But to hear Republicans talk about this email, it’s a “smoking gun” to a conspiracy as corrupt or worse than Watergate.
I guess it’s a good thing for Republicans that conservative voters don’t like to think for themselves. Otherwise they might see how ridiculous it is that nearly two years after this attack, we’re once again discussing it because of the talking points that were used just after it had occurred.
Well, a former Bush administration official and Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson hammered Republicans for how they obsess over Benghazi while ignoring Dick Cheney’s war crimes.
Wilkerson said, “I find it an enormous problem that they go after something like this, Benghazi – tragedy that it was – and they don’t go after something that is a colossal tragedy like the war crimes of Richard Bruce Cheney.”
He also went on to say, “The fact that I was a member of that administration will haunt me to the grave.”
The point he makes is one I, and many liberals, have been saying for quite a while now. It’s amazing how furious Republicans want to act about Benghazi, yet they completely ignore the horrors that were committed by the Bush administration.
While there’s no doubt that Benghazi is a tragedy, it pales in comparison to the over 4,000 Americans who died in Iraq based on a lie. Then we have a former vice president essentially bragging about the war crimes the administration committed, even saying he would do them again. Hell, in a recent speech Sarah Palin said if she were president she would openly commit war crimes.
And these are some of the people who want to act “alarmed” and “shocked” over the talking points used immediately following the attack in Benghazi? Give me a break.
Short version: The GOP is a staggering corpse that is fading into irrelevance and the real future is in the fight between pro-corporate Democrats and pro-worker Democrats.
But you definitely want to see it for yourself . . .
Krystal Ball: “Who will win the battle for the soul of the GOP? Will it be the establishment or the tea party, the libertarians or the social conservatives? Well after watching all sides battle it out at CPAC I have come to a definitive conclusion. Are you ready? Here is the answer; it doesn’t matter.
That’s right, who wins and who loses in the fight for control of the Republican party is totally irrelevant.
Sure, it is a fun parlor game to look at whose up and whose down in the Ted Cruz/Rand Paul showdown. Wait. No. It’s not. It’s a terrible parlor game. What is a parlor game?
Anyway, if you care about the future of this country the Republican party machinations are of now consequence. There’s a few reasons. First, look at this graph.
There is an unprecedented gap between the voting preferences of young voters and everyone else. Millennials may not be crazy about self-identifying as Democrats but whatever they call themselves they’re liberal. They are much more likely to vote Democratic than older generations.
So Republicans, do you know why in five of the last six Presidential elections you’ve lost the popular vote? It’s because every year the electorate is becoming browner and more influenced by the millennials who are more liberal than any other modern generation, and sorry GOP, they’re staying that way. To paraphrase Sally Field at her Oscar win, they don’t like you, they really don’t like you.
And who can blame them? The second reason the GOP is irrelevant is because your economic ideology is toast, debunked, discredited. Your intellectual heavy is Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan! You’ve been flailing around in a house that Reagan built for three decades and still haven’t realized it’s just an empty frame with no foundation. Come back to me when you have some actual evidence for your economic ideology, and no, Ayn Rand novels don’t count.
Nope. Republicans and their deck-chair shifting civil war don’t matter. If you are interested in where the country goes from here the action is all on the Democratic side, and while our own internal divide is less noisy than the Republican one it is just as real and waaaay more important.
This divide, the one that counts, is between the pro-corporate democrats and the pro-worker democrats. It’s pretty easy to tell which are which. In their best incarnation the pro-corporate dems do Wall Street and corporate America’s bidding while doing the best they can to shore up the safety net so that when working folks are inevitably abused by big banks and big business at least there is something of a net to catch them.
Pro-worker dems want to stop the abuse in the first place and keep and expand the safety net just in case those protections fail.
When pro-corporate dems get their way, as they have in democratic politics for, oh, the past twenty-two years, inequality rises. And when inequality rises the power of the plutocracy rises. And when plutocrats call the shots like they do now the safety net gets it.
Plutocrats, it turns out, don’t much care for supporting the workers on whose backs they earn their riches. So even though corporate democrats may be well intentioned their policies lead to a toxic brew of money, plutocracy and power that shreds the safety net, strips workers of their right and hollows out the middle class. The plutocracies wish is their command.
Now to be clear, either type of democrat is a million times better than the folks the GOP has to offer, but that is a pretty low bar. Time to expect more. To demand more. Do we want a society that governs for the needs of the many, or the desires of the few? I know which side I’m on, do you?”
“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” Sigmund Freud (possibly) said, poking fun at the idea (he popularized) that everything is based on subliminal, often phallus-based signals. But you can smoke a cigar. Why, Jon Stewart asked on Tuesday night’s Daily Show, are “such serious people in America so seriously sad” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. After all, he noted, Crimea isn’t “really part of our strategic or fossil fuel–type interests.”
The answer, Stewart decided, is that conservatives think Russia’s aggression makes America look weak. He showed some video clips of Republican pundits to bolster his assertion. “As you know, we have a foreign policy that is focused primarily on comparative penis size,” he concluded. After discussing Crimea for a while, Stewart brought it back to subliminal urges — Russian President Vladimir Putin, he suggested, is driven by his own yonic fears.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Sunday warned that the U.S. cannot trust the Russian government to cooperate not that the country has invaded Crimea, Ukraine.
“We know that the Russians have basically violated every major treaty they’ve ever entered into. We’ve seen how they’ve basically lied. Let’s call it what it is. They are lying and this government is a government of liars, the Russian government,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think they’re increasingly behaving like an enemy of international peace and international norms.”
Rubio added that Russia is a threat to American interests.
“And they are certainly, as it regards to that, an enemy of the United States with regard to those things I just outlined. And if you look at the positions they’ve taken, on issue after issue, Russia has been an obstacle to U.S. national interests,” he said.
Just 19% of Americans have confidence in Republicans, while a whopping 80% do not.
A new poll that found Americans with serious doubts about all their elected officials, but Republicans scored particularly badly—even with their own voters.
Just 36% of self-identified Republican voters say they have faith that their lawmakers will make good decisions.
They’re damning numbers for a party that’s hoping to retake the Senate in 2014, hold onto the House of Representatives, and locate a promising candidate capable of beating the Democratic matriarch Hillary Clinton.
In contrast, Congressional Democrats had the support of their own party—a majority support them—but just 27% of Americans overall.
“80 percent,” Morning Joe host’s Joe Scarborough remarked on Monday. “Four out of five people do not trust the Republican Party right now…I keep going back to that 80 percent for Republicans; that’s just about as bad as it gets.”
While the GOP suffered the most, both Congressional Democrats and Obama struggled in the poll.
The president’s approval rating is up four points from November to 46%—that’s the same low ratings George W. Bush had at this same six-year mark—but just 37% of Americans have either a good amount of a great deal of confidence that the president will make the right decisions for the country’s future. A strong majority, 63%, said they do not.
“There are no winners in this poll, but President Obama at 46 percent, the overall number I would say in these days is pretty solid,” Scarborough added. “You dig inside those numbers though, and a lot of very disturbing numbers for him.”
On healthcare, the president saw particularly low ratings: just 37% of Americans approved of his work on healthcare, while 59% disapprove.
CNN head Jeff Zucker didn’t mince words when talking to the media recently. Zucker said that Fox News is a front for the GOP and that the Republican Party is being run out of Fox.
Jeff Zucker took the opportunity presented by the upcoming release of Richard Sherman’s biography of Roger Ailes to unload on Fox News, “Clearly all I can say at this point, without having read it, is from what I understand it confirms, basically, what we’ve known all along, which is that the Republican Party is being run out of News Corp headquarters, masquerading as a cable channel.”
Zucker hit Ailes for doing an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on the same week that the book is coming out, “[Ailes] doesn’t do an interview in a long time and then does it the week that the book comes out? He’s trying to deflect attention. Clearly there’s probably no other network in American television that is covering news in such a substantial and serious way than CNN.”
Zucker’s statement seems like a Captain Obvious moment, but consider that one of the reasons why Fox News is able to get away with as much as it does is that the mainstream media largely takes FNC’s side and treats them like a real news organization.
Back in 2010, the media flipped out when President Obama spoke the truth about Fox News in a Rolling Stone interview, Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We’ve got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it’s been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it’s that Fox is very successful.”
After that interview, mainstream media television networks ran to the defense of Fox News. Mainstream outlets that are desperate to follow the money making model of Fox have more times than not defended the network as a real outlet for journalism, so Zucker’s comments are a big deal.
CNN has a multitude of problems. One of which is a bias towards Republicans that makes the network much less of a straight shooter than Zucker claims. I think Al Jazeera America would disagree with Zucker’s statement that no other American network is covering the news as substantially as CNN. Plus it is ironic that Zucker would talk about substance at CNN after he brought back the completely empty Crossfire, and has loaded up his weekend primetime lineup with non-news programming.
If more network heads would speak out against Fox News, the truth might set journalism free. The mainstream media, including CNN, still foolishly believe that America is a conservative country and their path to huge profits is to copy Fox. Until this changes, the sorry pro-Republican state of corporate media won’t be transformed anytime soon.
No matter how bad it seems for Democrats right now, said Rachel Maddow on her show Wednesday night, it’s worse for Republicans. In spite of the fact that the Obamacare roll-out was messy, the Republican Party right now is being roiled in an intense internecine civil war that is keeping the party completely paralyzed.
This week the U.S. Senate is having all-night sessions as the Republicans attempt to slow down voting on a clutch of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees.
“None of them are controversial,” Maddow said. “All of them are likely to be confirmed when their nomination comes up for a vote. But, Republicans have decided they’re going to take a really long time to do that.”
And, she added, the Republicans won’t get anything out of this political stunt that they wouldn’t get if they did nothing at all. The slowdown of voting is purely symbolic.
Senate Republicans are protesting the Democrats’ decision three weeks ago to dispense with the normal two-thirds’ majority needed for presidential nominations. Instead, now they only need a simple majority, action Democrats took in response to constant abuse of the filibuster by the GOP.
At the time of the vote, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell told Democrats, “You’ll regret this.”
Now, payback appears to be coming in the form of Republicans staying up past their bedtime.
“This is Mitch McConnell’s big idea?” Maddow asked.
“This was the Democrats’ whole idea,” she said, “to try to make clear that the Republicans are abusing the filibuster.”
“It’s amazing, it’s like he was hired by Democratic bloggers to illustrate what’s wrong with Republicans in the Senate right now,” she marveled.
But that’s nothing compared to what’s happening in the House of Representatives.
“If there is one thing to take more pleasure in than your opponent’s outraged display of his own impotence in defeat,” Maddow said, “it’s got to be the spectacle of your opponent being driven to his knees by infighting on his own side.”
In the House, “open warfare” has broken out between tea party Republicans and Republican Party stalwarts like Reps. John Boehner (R-OH) and Paul Ryan (R-WI), who are entering into a tentative budget deal with House Democrats.
This has outraged right-wing publications and pundits, who see any deal with Democrats as treachery and a danger to America.
Politico quoted Senate Conservatives Fund executive Director Matt Hoskins as saying, “John Boehner has apparently decided to join Mitch McConnell in the war on conservatives. McConnell called us fringe traitors who should be locked in a bar and punched in the nose, and now Boehner is lashing out at us too. Conservatives everywhere need to understand that the party’s leadership has declared war on them. If they don’t fight back, they will always regret it. We’re going to hang together or hang separately.”
All but cackling with delight, Maddow said, “Covering politics doesn’t get any better than this.”