Gotta love these "One Percent News" guys (Will Rice and Eric Byler), great satire. Of course, the people at CPAC they're interviewing don't understand it's satire, which makes it even funnier. I love the old guy talking about Ted Cruz being the "next Ronald Reagan," and also about how "we won't stand for" "the bastards" shoving Jeb Bush "down our throats."
So, Bob Goodlatte and his right-wingnut ilk hatehatehate (!!!!) "activist judges" when they enforce environmental laws, or let LGBT people have equal rights, or anyone else have equal rights, or interfere with their voter suppression schemes, or if they believe the lawsuit is for whatever reason "frivolous" or against THEIR (bizarre, warped) reading of the Constitution, or whatever. But Bob Goodlatte and his right-wingnut ilk lovelovelove (!!!!) it when judges strike down or weaken duly passed laws (e.g., the Affordable Care Act) or prevent the President from exercising his Executive Branch authorities as granted under the Constitution and the law. A bit of hypocrisy here? Nah, because they are right wingnuts, they just make up their own version of "truth" and "reality" as they go long.
First, let me just make it clear that I've been pro-Israel my entire life, in the sense that I support a strong, secure Jewish state, living in peace with its neighbors, and guaranteeing a place for Jews to live in safety. I'd add that I studied in Israel for a semester and have traveled all over the country, which is an amazing place, and one which I strongly encourage everyone to visit at some point in their lives! It's also an essential country, as the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps soberly, horribly reminds us.
If you are offended by Benjamin Netanyahu accepting John Boehner's invitation to address Congress, you are not anti-Israel and certainly not an anti-Semite. Many leaders in the Jewish community, including Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti Defamation League, and the Jewish Labor Committee are also opposed to it.
So are many Israelis who do not want partisan politics to drive a wedge between Israel's and America's historical friendship. Even those in Netanyahu's own party, who support his policies, think this is a mistake.
Indeed, it is a cynical ploy by both Boehner and Netanyahu and it is all about driving a political wedge to win an election.
By the way: It's not good for the Jews.
I totally agree. I also could go on about this subject for hours, but I'll spare you. :) But wait, you ask, why are you bringing this up on Blue Virginia, a blog focused on the State of Virginia, not the State of Israel? See the "flip" of this post for more on that.
From a bit earlier this evening at the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) meeting, Rep. Don Beyer explains what it's been like to be in the minority in the House of Representatives his first four weeks in office. Beyer also discusses his priorities, including making progress on dealing with climate change, and on helping to recruit strong candidates for 2016 so Democrats can take back the House!
Over on the website www.opednews.com, I posted the piece I had here late last week-- about how the 2014 elections were disgraceful, and how part of the disgrace was the failure of the Democrats to make the central issue of the campaign the way the Republicans in the last Congress betrayed the nation.
To that piece, among the comments were a number that sang a song that I've become familiar with in my decade of dealing with that readership, which is a good deal further to the left than I and, it seems, less accepting of the shades-of-gray reality of America, and for that matter the reality of just about any other country.
The lyrics to that song they sang is that the Democrats and the Republicans are not different in any important way, and that the Democrats and Republicans are colluding to take the nation along its present path.
Today I answered them in this way:
There's a point I'd like to make, even though it is one that I've made here in conversation with the opednews readership probably a half dozen times over the last six years especially.
It is addressed to the "not a dime's worth of difference" and "their in cahoots" crowd.
The video below is of Sen. Kaine earlier today taking issue with the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission for not having any women on the commission. As Sen. Kaine puts it (and I fully agree): "Wow, I mean, really?...It just seems to obvious that if we are really trying to have a military that is open to women...I'm stunned."
Also check out this article, which discusses legislation Sen. Kaine and Sen. McCaskill introduced earlier today that requires "public-high-school health-education classes...to include lessons about preventing sexual assaults and relationship violence." Good stuff - now pass it Congress!
The Democrats' 2014 election debacle left no room for doubt: Something is seriously wrong with this Democratic Party. Consider this:
* In the 2013-4 Congress, Republicans violated fundamental norms of American democracy, deliberately choosing to keep government from addressing the nation's pressing problems, showing an utter lack of concern for serving the public good.
* After this travesty took place in plain sight for nearly two years, the American electorate rewarded the Republicans by handing them even more power.
*Democrats coasted into electoral disaster without even trying to focus attention on the Republicans' unprecedented abuse of the system our Founders gave us.
Sure, there's plenty of shame to go around- every major component of the American body politic is implicated here.
The Republicans' conduct has been awful, of course, but there's no point dwelling on what this party has become. It has been well over a decade since that Party abandoned the integrity and decency of Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan.
The Republicans disabled our government right out in the open: making this past Congress the least productive in history; passing bills that they knew had zero chance of being enacted; focusing on provocative but useless gestures such as voting more than 50 times to repeal the health care law; refusing to bring to the House floor an immigration bill that had passed the Senate by more than 2 to 1; never proposing serious solutions of their own.
But apparently voters needed help to see how seriously the conduct of the Republicans had violated this nation's basic democratic values. Where could they get that help?
Check it out! Also note that Obama's increased approval ratings have come about since: a) Teapublicans took control of the US Congress and yet again demonstrated what a bunch of inocompetent loons they are; and b) Obama started standing up for progressive values and the environment, rather than continuing down the Warner-esque "both sides"/"radical centrist" dead end that has served him, our party, and our country so poorly for so long. Keep it up!
From the White House, prior to President Obama's State of the Union Address tonight.
As Prepared for Delivery
"We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.
But tonight, we turn the page."
"At this moment - with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production - we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It's now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.
Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?"
"So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don't get in the way."
Before we get to the subject noted in the headline, let's present the good news first from this morning's new Washington Post/ABC News poll: President Obama is now at an approval rating of 50%-44% among all U.S. adults, "the highest in a Post-ABC poll since the spring of 2013...nine points higher than in December and seven points higher than in October." Again, that's the good news, and it comes in spite of negative, biased reporting by our overwhelmingly corporate and right-wing media.
Now the bad news, for which I overwhelmingly blame the corporate/right-wing media's incessant - and blatantly, demonstrably, empirically false - narrative that it's actually "both sides," not just the Republicans and Tea Partiers, who are equally responsible for gridlock in Congress, problems in our country, you name it. Again, keep in mind that this is not just false, but wildly so. Now, here are the results that have me so appalled:
*"Overall, who do you trust to do a better job coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years (Obama) or (the Republicans in Congress)?" The contrast between where we found ourselves in 2009, when Republicans handed the baton to Democratic leadership, and now, five years later -- is stunning. And this massive improvement in our economy comes about in spite of Republican obstructionism, shutting down the government threatening to default on our country's national debt, declaring that their #1 priority was for President Obama to "fail," etc., etc. Yet in spite of all that evidence, the Post/ABC poll finds the country almost even split on who they trust to do a better job facing country between President Obama (40%) and Republicans (36%), with 17% saying "neither." Again, I blame the corporate media, and its 24/7 barrage of false equivalence, "both sides" reporting for most of that. I also blame Democratic politicians, Mark Warner being a prime example, for adopting this brain-dead, utterly false "framing" and perpetuating it.
*"Who do you think is mainly responsible for [government dysfunction] - (Obama and the Democrats in Congress), (the Republicans in Congress), or both sides equally?" Again, there's no question, factually speaking, who is at fault here: the Tea Party and the Republicans. They are the ones who have behaved in a wildly irresponsible, destructive manner since President Obama took office. They are the ones who shoved sequestration down our throats. They are the ones who shut down the government. They are the ones who threatened to default on our country's national debt. They are the ones who blocked investment in U.S. infrastructure, action on climate change and energy policy, action to help stem the scourge of gun violence, comprehensive immigration reform, action to address growing income inequality and wage stagnation, you name it. And despite all this, Democrats have made progress pulling us out of the Great Recession, which was handed over to President Obama by Bush, Cheney, etc. Yet somehow, Americans hold "both sides" equally responsible (61%) for making our government dysfunctional (note: an additional 18% bizarrely blame President Obama and Democrats in Congress, while 20% correctly blame Republicans in Congress).
*" Who do you think is taking a stronger leadership role in the government in Washington these days, (Obama) or (the Republicans in Congress)?" Ditto to my previous comments.
Bottom line: the American public's belief that "both sides" are responsible for whatever problems our country faces, for government "dysfunction," etc., is completely false. As Thomas Mann of the American Enterprise Institute and Norm Ornstein of the Brookings Institute wrote in 2012 (and the situation hasn't changed signficantly since then):
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country's challenges.
Bingo. Yet the American public doesn't know this. Why not? Corporate media, j'accuse!
So, is Rep. Bob Goodlatte BADlatte in the running for worst Congressman in Virginia or in the entire country? At the national level, there's a great deal of competition, but BADlatte's blocking of comprehensive immigration reform, his generally far-right-wing record, and now his idiocy on the Voting Rights Act, certainly puts him in the running! Personally, I'm just trying to figure out who's more of a disgrace to Virginia: a) BADlatte; b) climate science denier Morgan Griffith; c) Bob McDonnell; d) Joe Morrissey; or e) Ayn Rand-worshipping Dave Brat. Thoughts?
January 13, 2015 (Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Representative Don Beyer, Northern Virginia Democrat, released the following statement in support of H.R. 37 ahead of today's vote in the House of Representatives:
"I am a committed supporter of financial reform and voted today for H.R. 37 because on balance, it contains positive economic reforms. Had I been a member of Congress when Dodd-Frank was proposed, I would have voted for it. I am not, however, averse to modifications to Dodd-Frank that are made in a good faith effort to improve the legislation.
"H.R. 37 is a package of 11 bills, eight of which were previously passed by the House with 400 or more votes or passed the Financial Services Committee with near-unanimity and seven of which have nothing to do with Dodd-Frank. Among the bill's positive provisions is a reform that will help the emerging growth companies -- which have been the engine of our 21st century economy -- access capital and continue to grow. I am listening closely to the criticism of the bill, and respect that perspective. However, I believe that the net impact of the legislation will be positive. For example, the core provision of the Volker Rule, the ban on proprietary trading, is not impacted at all by the bill.
"The bill also addresses regulatory requirements which are not necessary to protect American consumers or our broader financial system. Regulation is not important for its own sake, and must be the result of a thoughtful, evolving process. Unnecessary regulations are not only a burden to business; they hamper regulators who are required to use their limited resources enforcing nonessential rules.
"I believe our nation needs financial reforms. For example, I endorsed the financial transaction tax proposed Monday by Rep. Van Hollen. I will continue to look for such opportunities.
"I have appreciated hearing from my constituents regarding my vote on H.R. 37 and look forward to continuing to do so as the debate over financial sector regulation moves forward in the 114th Congress."
That is, with an outpouring of appalling, stomach-churning racism, misogyny, anti-gay and anti-Muslim bigotry, etc. (see below) Sad to say, but after 6+ years of this crap, it's not in the least bit surprising to see this outpouring of disgusting-ness (but I'd argue it's important to expose it). Oh, and note to the "mainstream media": this is Example #Infinity why there's no equivalence between "both sides," and why you need to stop claiming there is.
P.S. For much of Sunday evening, this was a top "trending" hashtag on Twitter. Ugh.
Lots more right-wing/Tea Party classiness after the "flip."
The following thoughts come from a Virginia cop who describes himself as a "progressive in law enforcement" (he adds, "There are some of us actually LOL"). I had emailed him and asked what he thought of this article ("2nd NYPD officer honored at funeral; many again turn backs on de Blasio"). I don't agree with everything he says (e.g., I strongly DISagree on the Garner case and on police turning their backs on the Mayor at a funeral), but I felt that his perspective was newsworthy, since I know this individual is generally progressive and a strong Democrat. Also note that he is white.
In regards to the officers turning their backs on the Mayor at the funerals and at the hospital, I understand their anger and frustration with everything that has been going on. Two officers were killed, ambushed while these "anti-police" or "anti-brutality" (whatever you view them as) are on going. It happened when video showed protesters chanting for "dead cops" and wanting them "now."
Do I think those protesters and anti-police rhetoric lead to the ambush? In a way, yes.....Much like the "targets" on various congressional districts, like Gabby Gifford's fueled the shooter in her attack. I think it's unfair to totally ignore that factor much like people did during the Giffords shooting. The mayor definitely didn't attempt to defend or differentiate between 99% of NYPD officers who do an extraordinary job day in and day out and the bad ones when asked to comment on it. Do I think the officer in the Garner case acted maliciously? No. Do I think he acted criminally to be charged based on current case law. No, absolutely not. Civilly? More than likely......A lot of this anti-police anger comes from people not understanding case law relating to the subject and that's understandable, it's very complicated and hard to fathom.
Excellent news, looooong overdue! I mean, heck, we have diplomatic relations with Russia, China, and many other unsavory regimes, but not Cuba? Crazy.
Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people. We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba.
It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba. At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba. Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.
We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state. With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities. In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.
Wow, seriously? In addition to bashing Elizabeth Warren for supposedly being a demagogue (for not wanting to backtrack on reforms put in place after the Wall Street meltdown of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed), Rep. Moran absurdly/falsely claims that "Democrats are as much concerned about their left wing as Republicans are concerned about their right wing." That is just blatantly false. Evidence? Quick, name the last time a Democratic incumbent was challenged from their left in a primary, let alone defeated in one (UPDATE: as we're discussing in the comments, it HAS happened, but it's extremely rare on the Dem side; extremely common on the Republican side) Now, name the last time a Republican incumbent (hint: Eric Cantor) was challenged and defeated in a primary (hint: Dave Brat). In short, the former basically NEVER happens, while the latter happens all the freaking time. Just utter horse manure by Jim Moran on this one. Finally, check out this nonsense from Moran:
I hate to say this as a liberal myself, but I think you're going to see the same dynamics in the Democratic Party as in the Republican Party. You're going to see Ted Cruz going out to the right and trying to derail legislation, and I do think you're going to see some division within the Democratic Party between those that are on the left and those that are further on the left...
Riiiiight, so there's now an equivalency between the far right (Tea Party, Birchers, neo-Confederates, theocrats, Koch brothers, etc.) and the "left" (Moran seems to be pointing his finger at Elizabeth Warren, whose apparent "sin" is trying to rein in Wall Street)? Is this supposed to be a bad joke or what? Wow.
How are we to understand all these shootings, by police, of unarmed black men? And the manner in which the American justice system processes these shootings with the result that very few are indicted, hardly any are convicted, and virtually no one does any jail time? And how are we to understand the way that an impassioned major segment of people on the political right make heroes of the shooters in these cases -- like Darren Wilson (and a self-appointed vigilante like George Zimmerman)?
A very dark force in the American body politic -- an ancient and destructive component in the consciousness of the American collectivity -- is being expressed here. It is all about that component of American civilization, going back centuries, that insists on the power of whites to oppress blacks.
Central to that oppressive power arrangement is making black people -- making black men, specifically -- afraid. Intimidation is always and everywhere a favorite tool of the oppressor.
In the days of slavery, the white elite created a system of "slave patrols" to capture and punish runaway slaves, and to intimidate the rest of the slave population. In the century of the Jim Crow regime in the American South, a whole range of methods -- of which the lynching was only the most dramatic -- were employed to intimidate blacks (again, especially black men) into acquiescing in the oppression imposed upon them by the dominant white race.
It is, regrettably, in that context that the pathological pattern of police killings of unarmed black men is to be understood.
What do the recent mottoes "Hands up! Don't shoot" and "I can't breathe" express if not a shared sense in the black community that it is dangerous to be an American While Black? And while the police in America truly do -- in most ways -- "protect and defend" all of us, that is historically not the whole picture. There is also nothing new in American history about the police force also being an instrument for protecting and defending power relationships, some of which are unjust.
The most important lesson: "the GOP's embrace of extremism as a calculated political strategy worked perfectly. It has invalidated key elements of Democratic political strategy and it is urgent that Democrats now face this reality.
"This extremist political strategy of the GOP-reflected particularly in legislative paralysis and stealth campaigning-is a central force behind the two major challenges that face Democrats today: the enthusiasm gap and the inability of Democratic candidates to expand the current Democratic coalition."
"Up until now the combination of stealth candidates concealing the extremist nature of their agenda until elected and the 40 year campaign to discredit the Democrats as culturally alien representatives of minorities and the educated elite has left more moderate Republicans with what they perceive as an completely unsatisfactory choice-to vote for Democrats they deeply distrust or else for GOP candidates with whom on many issues they disagree."
"The key to successful persuasion and mobilization of Democratic base voters against the GOP will be to convince them that apparently separate individual issues that motivate them are all profoundly endangered by a coherent and coordinated national extremist agenda that directly threatens all progressive values and goals."
"The essential problem this group presents for Democratic strategy is that while they clearly see the consequences of extremist strategy-near complete legislative paralysis and gridlock-they still apply out-of-date concepts to interpret the causes of this problem rather than clearly perceiving the new and unique role of GOP
extremism. Some, more leftwing drop-off voters, for example, perceive both political parties as equally capitalist in nature and dismiss all Democratic and Republican politicians as equally puppets of big business. Other less radical drop-off voters blame more amorphous notions of "corrupt politicians" and "special interests" in
general. Still others assume the fault lies in an ethical failure of all politicians as a class to be willing to put aside their personal hubris and to compromise for the greater good. In each case the result is a cynicism about politics in general rather than an energetic opposition to the extremist strategy of the GOP."
"The mainstream media has not only accepted without question the view that the unprecedented political extremism of the GOP is simply 'the new normal,' but has even proceeded to blame Obama for the legislative paralysis caused by the political strategy followed by the GOP. This means that in 2016 and beyond Democrats will find the mainstream media repeatedly excusing, supporting, justifying and enabling the profoundly dangerous extremism of today's GOP."
"The most indefensible group of rationalizers and apologists for the new GOP extremism is the mainstream media. The extent of their journalistic 'dereliction of duty' can be seen by comparing it to the behavior of the media in previous circumstances when right wing extremism posed a serious threat to America's political institutions" - the McCarthy era, when the mainstream media played a vital role in finally rallying public opinion against the 'witch hunt' atmosphere and the hysteria that McCarthy's false accusations generated
I'd just add a few points. First, Andy Schmookler has written insistently, here and elsewhere, about the rise of a radical, extremist force in U.S. politics -- the Tea Party of course, but more broadly the Republican Party, exemplified as it is by ignorance, fear, greed, intolerance, anger, and other "lesser angels of our nature." The question is, what do we do about it? Clearly, the first step is to call it out for what it is. The second step is for Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans to turn out at the polls to reject it.
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