Tag: Republicans

Oct 07

Note to Secret Service: Republicans Don’t Need Your Help to Look Stupid

Last week it was reported that the US Secret Service allegedly tried to embarrass House Rep. Jason Caffetz (R-UT) by releasing information from his Secret Service file. John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” wonders why they are wasting their time when given enough time Republicans will embarrass themselves>

   OLIVER: That’s right. The Secret Service attempted to embarrass one of their biggest critics, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, by leaking his rejected application to join them, essentially behaving like the high school table of mean girls. […]

   And I don’t know what’s worse here. The fact that the Secret Service is so petty that they broke the law to embarrass Jason Chaffetz, or that they’re so stupid, they didn’t realize, if you want to embarrass Jason Chaffetz, just wait, and he will do it for you.

H/t Heather, Crooks and Liars

Oct 01

The Elephant is Out of the Bottle

Like many of the past GOP gaffs, the truth about the real purpose of the House’s latest House Benghazi investigation as exposed when prospective Speaker of the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told that the Fox News’ Sean Hannity Benghazi investigation was intended to damage the presidential campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

McCarthy said Tuesday that Clinton would have remained “unbeatable,” had it not been for the committee.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee, what are her numbers today?” McCarthy told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “Her numbers are dropping, why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened.”

 

He then reiterated that to CNN’s Jake Tapper that the committee was part of a “strategy to fight and win”.  

“I’m willing to fight but I want to fight to win,” McCarthy said when asked about the call by some Republicans to force a government shutdown fight in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

McCarthy said he supports a “bottom-up” approach to leading, where Republicans first put forward their policies and plans, use committees to do the groundwork, and then let that effort result in winning a vote on a policy.

He pointed to the controversy over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while in office — which has at times overshadowed her presidential campaign — as an example of how the process can work.

“When you look at the poll numbers of Hilary Clinton — they’ve dropped. Unfavorable is pretty high because people say they don’t trust her,” McCarthy said. “They don’t trust her because what they found out about the server and everything else. Would you ever have found that out had you not gathered the information from Benghazi Select Committee? So if we really want to be able to show what this Planned Parenthood has done … have the select committee get all the information, all the hearings. Win the argument to win the vote.”

The fall out from the Democratic side was immediate with demands that present Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) disband the committee:

In the letter, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats said that McCarthy, who is in line to replace Boehner after the speaker retires, had revealed that the panel’s true purpose was political.

“We are writing to ask you to disband the House Select Committee on Benghazi after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent comments admitting that the Select Committee was put together to serve the political purpose of defeating Secretary Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential elections by hurting her in the polls, rather than conducting a serious investigation into a terrorist attack that killed four Americans,” wrote Reid, who was joined by Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.).

“We should not disrespect their sacrifice by further politicizing this tragedy,” they continued.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow spoke with Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) about why the committee should be disbanded and a possible boycott by the Democrats on the committee.

Following Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s spilling truth , the Republicans are scrambling to deny it

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said McCarthy should apologize, saying the California Republican made an “absolutely inappropriate statement.”

Speaker John Boehner, who is set to retire at the end of the month, sought to provide cover for McCarthy on Thursday. In a statement, he denied that the committee has anything to do with politics.

“This investigation has never been about former Secretary of State Clinton and never will be,” Boehner said. [..]

“I might have said it differently,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, told CNN. “Any ancillary political activity that comes out of it is, in fact, not the goal of the committee and is not what the committee is seeking to do.”

Added Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, “I totally disagree with those comments.” Asked if they could jeopardize his bid for speaker, the conservative Amash said: “I think it should be a concern.”

This is an elephant they aren’t going to get back in the bottle.  Everyone knows this charade has always been political. Republicans using the deaths of four Americans for political gain is bereft of any human decency.

Sep 25

John Boehner Resigns (Up Date with Press Conference)

Up date: A jovial John Boehner addressed the press, waking into the press room singing “Zippity Do Da.”

Since the Tea Party revolution that helped the Republicans take over the leadership of the House of Representatives in 2010, that body has slipped into chaos with the hard line right wing refusing to compromise  with the more moderate members of their own party. That chaos had now reached its head. Unable to get any compromise from the Tea Party caucus, Speaker of the House John Boehner has announced his resignation from his leadership position and his seat at the end of October.

John Boehner, House Speaker, Will Resign From Congress

By Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times

Speaker John A. Boehner, under intense pressure from conservatives in his party, announced on Friday that he would resign one of the most powerful positions in government and give up his House seat at the end of October, as Congress moved to avert a government shutdown.

Mr. Boehner, who was first elected to Congress in 1990, made the announcement in an emotional meeting with his fellow Republicans on Friday morning.

“The first job of any speaker is to protect this institution that we all love,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement released later. “It was my plan to only serve as speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican conference and the House. It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the speakership and my seat in Congress on Oct. 30.”

Mr. Boehner, 65, from Ohio, had struggled from almost the moment he took the speaker’s gavel in 2011 to manage the challenges of divided government and to hold together his fractious and increasingly conservative Republican members. [..]

It will be up to a majority of the members of the House now to choose a new leader, and the leading candidate is Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader, who is viewed more favorably by the House’s more conservative members. The preferred candidate among many Republicans, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has said he does not want the job.

While he appears to have the support at the moment, there are those who are opposed to Rep. McCarthy so that is not exactly a done deal. Remember the part of the definition of the chaos theory is

Small differences in initial conditions … yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamical systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general.

As Minority Leader Nancy Peolsi (D-CA) said when she heard the news, this is “a stark indication of the disarray of House Republicans.”

May 05

The Proof Is In; Texas Has Been Taken Over By Idiots

It’s been evident for years that Texas has been becoming more and more radical and not in a good way. Besides being taken over by the Tea Party and the narrow minded Christian right wing, the Texas state government is now pandering to the really wacky conspiracy theorists. Now, don’t take that as all conspiracies are wacky, some have been proven to be quite factual true and not the fiction of some paranoid’s delusions. But this latest theory, that was sparked by a post in the internet by none other than Alex Jones’ “Info Wars,” is beyond bizarre and proof positive that state government has gone off the deep end.

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Guard to monitor federal military exercises in Texas after some citizens have lit up the Internet saying the maneuvers are actually the prelude to martial law.

The operation causing rampant suspicions is a new kind of exercise involving elite teams such as the SEALs and Green Berets from four military branches training over several states from July 15 to Sept. 15

Called Jade Helm 15, the exercise is one of the largest training operations done by the military in response to what it calls the evolving nature of warfare. About 1,200 special operations personnel will be involved and move covertly among the public. They will use military equipment to travel between seven Southwestern states from Texas to California.

On Monday, command spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria attended a Bastrop County Commissioners Court meeting to answer community questions and was met with hostile fire. Lastoria, in response to some of the questions from the 150 who attended, sought to dispel fears that foreign fighters from the Islamic State were being brought in or that Texans’ guns would be confiscated, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman.

Joining in the fun, of course, is Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), presidential candidate and right winger extraordinaire, who is requesting that the Pentagon explain itself:

“My office has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise,” Cruz, a Texas senator, told Bloomberg at the South Carolina Republican Party’s annual convention. “We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.”

There were a couple of sane voices to decry Gov. Greg Abbott’s overreaction, but unfortunately, neither is in office anymore.

May 01

The Real Reason AG Lynch Should Not Have Been Confirmed

Last week the Senate finally confirmed Loretta Lynch as the 83rd Attorney General after a 5 month delay. She was sworn in on Monday by Vice President Joe Biden. The reasons the Republican majority made for the hold on her confirmation were baseless and revealed just how dysfunctional the congress really is. Using the fight over abortion provisions in an human trafficking bill that Democrats found untenable, looked more like hostage taking than politics. Ms. Lynch had sailed through her other confirmations with unanimous bipartisan support. She has a history of being tough on political corruption and police brutality. She famously prosecuted the New York City Police officers who had brutally abused Abner Louima and was investigating the officer involved in the choke hold death of Eric Garner last year.

But the one really good reason the Republicans had to not confirm her was never mentioned by them or the media, the banks. As the article by William K. Black, a  professor of economics and law, discusses, “(Ms.) Lynch’s failure to prosecute HSBC and its officers exemplified a real Obama scandal, the effective end of the rule of law for criminal bankers.”

GOP opposition to Lynch was a missed opportunity

By William K. Black, Al Jazeera

The Republicans’ failed tactics against Loretta Lynch reveal the big banks’ hold on both parties

The reason Lynch was such a godsend to the GOP never appeared in the Times article: HSBC. The biggest bank in Europe and the most disreputable large bank in the world, HSBC was the subject of the most important case Lynch ever handled. It demonstrated that Lynch’s “formidable reputation as a prosecutor” is undeserved, making Republican opposition to her nomination legitimate. More important, her failure to prosecute HSBC and its officers exemplified a real Obama scandal, the effective end of the rule of law for criminal bankers.

Lynch’s sweetheart deal with HSBC, her indefensible reactions to the bank’s failures to comply even with the sweetheart deal and the bank’s continued commission of thousands of felonious transactions after the sweetheart deal offered Republican leaders the ideal circumstances to attack the Obama administration. The Republicans did not need to suddenly develop investigative skills and honest congressional reports. The Democrats, Lynch’s appointee as HSBC’s monitor and the whistleblowers have done all the heavy investigative lifting for the GOP. The ultrashort version is that HSBC and its personnel were caught red-handed having laundered over $1 billion for Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel – one of the most violent cartels in the world – and helped Sudan and Iran violate U.S. anti-terrorism and anti-genocide sanctions with impunity. This was all documented in a Senate investigation by former Sen. Carl Levin – a Democrat and Congress’ most respected and competent investigator – in a report that the Republicans could have joyfully quoted. The bank was found to have engaged in massive efforts to aid and abet tax fraud. HSBC’s monitor discovered that the bank was not complying with even the sweetheart nonprosecution agreement that Lynch negotiated. She nevertheless failed to prosecute any of the numerous felonies at HSBC outlined in the Levin report.

Remarkably, the supposedly liberal New York Times and GOP leaders have something in common: Both refused to mention HSBC as a key reason for rejecting Lynch’s nomination. What the GOP’s embarrassingly self-destructive strategy for opposing Lynch proves is that even when the Republicans have the perfect opportunity to embarrass the Obama administration and highlight one of its largest scandals – the failure to prosecute a single bank officer who led the most destructive epidemics of financial fraud in history that caused our Great Recession – the Republicans refused, lest they upset their leading source of political contributions. The approval of the Lynch nomination demonstrates that bipartisanship does exist on Capitol Hill: when it favors the big banks and their lobbyists

Prosecuting these bank criminals was too hard for former AG Eric Garner, it obviously will be for AG Lynch, as well. The banks not only own congress, they own the White House and the Department of Justice.  

Apr 16

The Right’s Stealth Efforts to Privatize the Veterans Administration

Koch-backed veterans group advocates for VA privatization

During the 2014 midterm election cycle, the Koch-funded group Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) backed a bevy of extreme conservative candidates and helped send top Koch cronies (and veterans) Joni Ernst and Tom Cotton to the U.S. Senate. Scarcely a couple months into the 2016 cycle, CVA has released a report recommending that much of the U.S. Veterans Administration be privatized, an extreme policy position that would jeopardize the care received by millions of our nation’s veterans.

Last month, CVA’s Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce released its final report suggesting “policy reforms” for the VA, namely that the VA’s health care system be converted into an independent, nonprofit corporation and advocating for the creation of a private insurance option for veterans. Additionally, new enrollees into the proposed system would face tougher enrollment standards. According to USA Today, a whopping one-fifth of future veterans would not be eligible for care under CVA’s proposed system. It’s no wonder then that the American Legion has come out against the plan, as did Paralyzed Veterans of America, and that “most veterans service organizations skipped” the rollout of the CVA’s final report, according to Stars & Stripes Magazine.

Most veterans organizations don’t support CVA’s privatization plan, and it has the potential to negatively impact some 20 percent of future veterans. So what explains CVA’s release of what Stars & Stripes calls a “radical” plan for the VA? Consider that CVA received a whopping $5.5 million from the Koch brothers’ “secret bank” – Freedom Partners – in 2013. The Kochs have advocated for education reform by way of abolishing the federal Department of Education and campaign finance reform vis-à-vis doing away with the FEC. So it’s disappointing, but not surprising, that a Koch group’s vision of VA reform is to privatize most of the agency charged with caring for our nation’s veterans.

Koch favorite and presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio has already endorsed the extreme CVA plan. Will the rest of the Koch cronies follow suit and contradict the position of most veterans service organizations?

The idea of privatization through vouchers is also supported by two other GOP presidential contenders: former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). The right wing would like nothing more than to dismantle the entire social safety net for everyone.

In a two part segment, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted how the right wing was quietly working to privatize segments of the Veterans Administration through vouchers for health care outside the system.

In the second segment, she speaks with Robert McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, about the importance of the VA in the American health system, how the VA is improving after recent scandals, and political challenges from conservatives interested in privatization.

Founder of VoteVets.org Eric Solz pointed out in an article for Huffington Post that the voucher system would undermine funding to the VA and shuttle veterans into a system that is not equipped to handle their special needs.

The scandal that rocked the VA over excessive wait times to get care and excessive backlogs in processing claims was terrible. It was also a problem that was, literally, years in the making. Before Secretary Eric Shinseki, not a single VA secretary, Democrat or Republican, tried to get the VA to move to a modern, computerized system. And the VA never prepared for the influx of veterans when we launched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to overstretched facilities cooking their books to avoid punishment.

There is no doubt that veterans shouldn’t have to rely on the VA for everything. But what Republican candidates, backed by the Koch-brothers-funded Concerned Veterans for America, talk about is the beginning of the end of the pact we make with our veterans to give them the care they need. What they want is the privatization of veterans’ care: Fight for your country and get a voucher.

What this would do is severely underfund the department, leaving veterans out in the cold when it comes to many of their service-connected injuries. For example, VA centers are often equipped to deal with amputations and traumatic brain injuries in a way that a local doctor or hospital might not be. But if we voucherize the system, local VA centers and hospitals would be forced to shutter their doors. For veterans in need of specialized care — both physical and mental — they may not have an able caregiver to turn to in their area.

Furthermore, the VA, despite the bad press, continues to far outpace private care in national customer satisfaction surveys. Veterans like the care they get at the VA. A lot. Closing the VA is the first step toward ending other popular programs like Medicare. In fact, that’s what this whole fight is about.

Feb 21

A Bird in the Hand

In remarks on foreign policy before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, potential 2016 GOP presidential hopeful, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush attempted to distance himself from his brother President George W. Bush and his father, Pres. George H. W. Bush, insisting that he is “his own man.”

He pretty much stumbled and fumbled, even with the telepromter, and, quite obviously isn’t ready for prime time on foreign policy.

One way he unmistakably resembles his father and brother is in his apparent discomfort with a prepared text. He appeared far more at ease answering questions than delivering his speech, which he read quickly, without the authority he has often shown when discussing domestic issues.

Still, his responses were not mistake-free: When he sought to attack President Obama, he inflated the number of Islamic State fighters, saying in his remarks that there were 200,000. A spokeswoman for Mr. Bush later clarified that he had meant to say 20,000. At another point, he pronounced Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group based in Nigeria, as “Boku Haram.”

Mr. Bush said his formative experience on foreign policy had come not from watching his brother or father serve as commander in chief, but as a 20-something working and starting a family in Venezuela, and then as the governor of a state actively involved in foreign trade.

He recalled how many times he had visited Israel (five) and noted that he had “forced” himself to visit Asia four times each year.

Despite explaining how his biography differed – he recalled the high price of Pampers in Caracas – Mr. Bush is benefiting from the former presidents Bush.

As bad as his appearance was, the real problem is that someone forgot to tell his staff that it might not be a good idea to release the list of foreign policy advisers that Jeb has decided to be on his team.

The list represents the full spectrum of views within the Republican foreign policy establishment – from relative moderates, including former secretaries of state George P. Shultz and James A. Baker III, to staunch neoconservatives such as Iraq war architect Paul D. Wolfowitz.  [..]

Among Bush’s announced advisers are several viewed as staunch defenders of the CIA, including former director Michael V. Hayden, who came under heavy criticism in a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report about the agency’s interrogation techniques.

Just as telling were those missing from the official list.

Although former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice is at least as close personally to the Bush family as anyone on the list – and has consulted with the former Florida governor – the absence of her name suggests that he is sensitive about being seen as a carbon copy of his brother.

Al the Bushes Men (and women) photo BushMenv4_zps72021e63.png

Click on image to enlarge

The apple didn’t fall too far from the tree or that far from his older bother.

Jan 08

The Battle for North Carolina

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

North Carolina Battleground State



Full transcript can be read here

First it was Wisconsin. Now it’s North Carolina that is redefining the term “battleground state.”  On one side:  a right-wing government enacting laws that are changing the face of the state. On the other:  citizen protesters who are fighting back against what they fear is a radical takeover. This crucible of conflict reflects how the battle for control of American politics is likely to be fought for the foreseeable future: not in Washington, DC, but state by state. [..]

At the heart of this conservative onslaught sits a businessman who is so wealthy and powerful that he is frequently described as the state’s own “Koch brother.” Art Pope, whose family fortune was made via a chain of discount stores, has poured tens of millions of dollars into a network of foundations and think tanks that advocate a wide range of conservative causes.  Pope is also a major funder of conservative political candidates in the state.

Pope’s most ardent opponent is the Reverend William Barber, head of the state chapter of the NAACP, who says the right-wing state government has produced “an avalanche of extremist policies that threaten health care, that threaten education [and] that threaten the poor.” Barber’s opposition to the legislature as well as the Pope alliance became a catalyst for the protest movement that became known around the country as “Moral Mondays.”

The Koch brothers aren’t the only ones who can guy a state.

State for Sale

by Jane Mayer October 10, 2011

In the spring of 2010, the conservative political strategist Ed Gillespie flew from Washington, D.C., to Raleigh, North Carolina, to spend a day laying the groundwork for REDMAP, a new project aimed at engineering a Republican takeover of state legislatures. Gillespie hoped to help his party get control of statehouses where congressional redistricting was pending, thereby leveraging victories in cheap local races into a means of shifting the balance of power in Washington. It was an ingenious plan, and Gillespie is a skilled tactician-he once ran the Republican National Committee-but REDMAP seemed like a long shot in North Carolina. Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 and remained popular. The Republicans hadn’t controlled both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly for more than a century. (“Not since General Sherman,” a state politico joked to me.) That day in Raleigh, though, Gillespie had lunch with an ideal ally: James Arthur (Art) Pope, the chairman and C.E.O. of Variety Wholesalers, a discount-store conglomerate. The Raleigh News and Observer had called Pope, a conservative multimillionaire, the Knight of the Right. The REDMAP project offered Pope a new way to spend his money.

That fall, in the remote western corner of the state, John Snow, a retired Democratic judge who had represented the district in the State Senate for three terms, found himself subjected to one political attack after another. Snow, who often voted with the Republicans, was considered one of the most conservative Democrats in the General Assembly, and his record reflected the views of his constituents. His Republican opponent, Jim Davis-an orthodontist loosely allied with the Tea Party-had minimal political experience, and Snow, a former college football star, was expected to be reëlected easily. Yet somehow Davis seemed to have almost unlimited money with which to assail Snow.[..]

Bob Phillips, the head of the North Carolina chapter of Common Cause, an organization that promotes campaign-finance reform, said that Snow’s loss signals a troubling trend in American politics. “John Snow raised a significant amount of money,” he said. “But it was exceeded by what outside groups spent in that race, mostly on commercials against John Snow.” Such lopsided campaigns will likely become more common, thanks to the Supreme Court, which, in a controversial ruling in January, 2010, struck down limits on corporate campaign spending. For the first time in more than a century, businesses and unions can spend unlimited sums to express support or opposition to candidates.

Phillips argues that the Court’s decision, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, has been a “game changer,” especially in the realm of state politics. In swing states like North Carolina-which the Democrats consider so important that they have scheduled their 2012 National Convention there-an individual donor, particularly one with access to corporate funds, can play a significant, and sometimes decisive, role. “We didn’t have that before 2010,” Phillips says. “Citizens United opened up the door. Now a candidate can literally be outspent by independent groups. We saw it in North Carolina, and a lot of the money was traced back to Art Pope.”

At Bill Moyers and Company, John Light and Laura Macomber give a synopsis of events in North Carolina:

In 2012, North Carolinians elected a Republican to the governor’s office. That same year, the Republican majority in the General Assembly – first elected in 2010 – grew to a supermajority. The result was that conservatives won the power to change state law dramatically – and over this last year, they used that power. The new legislation included ending benefits for the long-term unemployed; declining the Obamacare Medicaid extension; eliminating the earned-income tax credit; and passing what some observers call the worst voter suppression law in the country. In response, those critical of the right-wing legislative agenda united around protests at the state legislature on Mondays, part of a growing citizen movement that has come to be known as “Moral Mondays.” So far, the movement, however ambitious, has done little to slow the state’s Republican majority from pushing through its agenda.

But this story didn’t start on Election Day 2012 – its roots run deep. And a similar situation could unfold in any of America’s 50 states.

The writers also provide a reading list of articles that follow the money trail that paid for redistricting and the extreme right wing legislative agenda.

Nov 12

Dollarocracy: What Last Week’s Election Was Really About

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In the wake of last week’s off-off year elections, Bill Moyers sat down with Washington correspondent for The Nation, John Nichols, and professor of communications at the University of Illinois, Robert McChesney, to discuss how big money and big media conglomerates are raking in a fortune, influencing elections and undermining democracy

This past Tuesday, special interests pumped big money into promoting or tearing down candidates and ballot initiatives in elections across the country. It was a reprise on a small scale of the $7 billion we saw going into presidential, congressional and judicial races in 2012. To sway the vote, wealthy individuals and corporations bought campaign ads, boosting revenues at a handful of media conglomerates who have a near-monopoly on the airwaves. [..]

“Democracy means rule of the people: one person, one vote,” McChesney says. “Dollarocracy means the rule of the dollars: one dollar, one vote. Those with lots of dollars have lots of power. Those with no dollars have no power.” Nichols tells Moyers: “Dollarocracy has the ability to animate dead ideas. You can take an idea that’s a bad idea, buried by the voters. Dollarocracy can dig it up and that zombie idea will walk among us.”

An Election About GOP Extremism, Unions, Wages and Dollarocracy

by John Nichols, The Nation

Two states will elect governors Tuesday and one of those governors could emerge as a 2016 presidential contender. The nation’s largest city will elect a mayor, as will hundreds of other communities. A minimum-wage hike is on the ballot. So is marijuana legalization. So is the labeling of genetically-modified foods. And Seattle might elect a city council member who promises to open the fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Forget the silly dodge that says local and state elections don’t tell us anything. They provide measures of how national developments – like the federal government shutdown – are playing politically. They give us a sense of whether the “war on women” is widening the gender gap. They tell us what issues are in play and the extent to which the political debate is evolving.

Oct 26

The Once and Great GOP Tech Guru: John McAfee

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

You could label this “what were they thinking” but we’re talking about the Republican Party here. IT seems that in the midst of the latest “crisis,” the failure to launch of the Healthcare.gov web site, the genius Republicans of the House of Representative decided to ask a murder suspect to testify as an computer expert. No, I am not pulling you leg.

House Republicans Asked Murder Suspect John McAfee to Testify on Obamacare Website

by David, Crooks and Liars

According to emails obtained by CNBC, House Republicans asked the founder of McAfee Associates to “guide our oversight and review” of the Affordable Care Act website.

In 2012, McAfee went on the run from Belize authorities after being suspected of the murder of his neighbor. He was later detained in Guatemala and deported to the United States, but has not been charged with a crime.

“This is the Committee of jurisdiction for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare),” House Committee on Energy and Commerce counsel Sean Hayes wrote to McAfee’s lawyer on Oct. 14. “For three years we have been monitoring the implementation of the law and have been trying to dig into what has happened with the Exchange rollout.”

“Given the failures of Healthcare.gov, and Mr. McAfee’s expertise, I was hoping he might be able to discuss his views with staff on the hill,” the email continued. “It would be an informal discussion: we would take notes but these would not be for attribution, it would mainly guide our oversight and review of the program.”

“This would hopefully not be a heavy lift for him: what problems could lead to the compromise of personal identifying information? What could we be doing to prevent data or identify theft? What advice generally does he have?”

The deal fell through when the House wouldn’t pay for Mr. McAfee’s travel expenses. In case you aren’t aware of the hilarity of this invitation, Rachel Maddow gives us the Cliff Note version of Mr. McAfee’s biography

Can you imagine the hilarity of McAfee’s testimony as his mind wanders from the technicalities of launcing a web site to his sexual prowess and drug expertise? C-Span’s ratings would soar.

Oct 18

Congressional Game of Chicken: Hostages Get A Reprieve

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Barack Obama signed the bill early Thursday morning that reopens the government and raises the debt ceiling, officially ending the 16-day shutdown, the White House said.

CNN Breaking News

If anyone thinks that the latest budget crisis is over, or that there was a victory, they are living in the bubble of a fool’s paradise.

This has cost the economy billions, hurt countless individuals in many ways for a deal that merely kicks the can down the road. Come January, unless a long term budget deal is passed, another continuing resolution (CR) will be needed. February is even more ominous when again the US hits its borrowing limit.

Obama should have stood his ground last year when he caved and gave the Republicans the sequester which is far more damaging to the economy than the ACA. Look what happened to the Republican brand. That could have been last year and the Democrats might have stood a better chance of increasing its majority in the Senate and gaining even more than 8 seats in the House.

There is no sense in rehashing what can’t be undone. The Democrats now need to deal with repairing the damage of the last 5 years continuing to hold firm on the budget, ending the sequester cuts for more reasonable spending that will benefit the majority of Americans and finally killing the biggest threat to the US and World economies, the debt ceiling cap.

Time to take the bullets out of the gun.

Oct 15

Congressional Game of Chicken: Countdown to Default

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Chris Hayes, the host of MSNBC’s All In, has the most concise and informative summary of the countdown to default.

Transcript can be read here

With days until default, a breakthrough?

With just three days to go until an unprecedented, possible U.S. default, there is some hope at this hour of a deal to re-open the government, raise the debt ceiling, and put an end to the shutdown. Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Scott Rigell join Chris Hayes to discuss inner dealings and where we’re at the road to re-open the government.

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