Archive for category 2008 Election
Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly highlighted a report from Media Matters, detailing the depth and breadth of the right’s bizarre Benghazi! obsession. Ed noted:
Short of gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Watergate hearings, I’m not sure we’ve seen anything quite like it in modern electronic media. And we wonder why in the strange alternative universe of the conservative movement, jabbering about Benghazi! is like discussing the weather.
From the Media Matters report:
Media Matters reviewed Fox News transcripts and identified segments including significant discussion of Benghazi on The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren between September 11, 2012, the night of the attacks, and May 2, 2014, when House Speaker John Boehner announced the formation of a select committee to investigate the attacks and their aftermath. This report does not include The Kelly File or Fox Report because they did not run for the full period of the study.
?1,098 total Fox News evening segments that included significant discussion of Benghazi — an average of about 13 segments per week
?In 18 of 20 months studied, Fox ran at least 20 Benghazi segments per month, with a high of 174 in October 2012
?382 segments aired on Special Report, the network’s flagship news program
?478 segments invoked the talking points used for Susan Rice’s 2012 Sunday show appearances
?281 segments alleging a “cover-up” by the Obama administration
?144 interviews of GOP members of Congress versus only five interviews of Democratic members of Congress and Obama administration officials
?120 comparisons to Iran-Contra, Watergate, and the actions of the Nixon administration
?105 attempts to link Benghazi to Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential ambitions
?100 segments promoting the lie that the administration issued a “stand-down order”
Media Matters points out that Fox’s talking points have been repeatedly refuted by actual facts but that hasn’t stopped the sludge from flowing. The right’s obsession with Benghazi is a perfect example of the mighty wurlitzer at work. It’s depressing – people on the right have an almost religious belief that Benghanzi! was some sort of scandal and that if they just keep digging the nefarious, black-hearted truth will emerge.
Conservatives have now spent 2 years shrieking hysterically about BENGHAZI, convinced of some sort of malfeasance or deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama Administration. According to the Republican led House Intelligence Committee, not so much.
Among the key findings:
— Intelligence agencies were “warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened.”
— “A mixed group of individuals, including those associated with al Qaeda, (Moammar) Khadafy loyalists and other Libyan militias, participated in the attack.”
— “There was no ‘stand-down order’ given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, no illegal activity or illegal arms transfers occurring by U.S. personnel in Benghazi, and no American was left behind.”
— The administration’s process for developing “talking points” was “flawed, but the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis.”
Anyone betting this will mean conservatives will stop hysterically shrieking about Benghazi is taking a sucker’s bet.
Modern “conservatives” pull over “the thinker”.
Says it all, don’t ya think?
If you’ve been following the news lately, you will know that Count My Vote is attempting to be a citizens initiative to change Utah’s caucus system to a primary system. At a minimum, it’s gotten Utahns talking about how we select our candidates for public office which is good. I’m not convinced Count My Vote’s solution solves the problem they claim to want to solve. Will switching from the current caucus system improve voter engagement and turnout? That depends on whether it addresses the reasons people don’t vote.
So says Jonathan Chait.
In a merciful twist of fate, Juan Linz did not quite live to see his prophecy of the demise of American democracy borne out. Linz, the Spanish political scientist who died last week, argued that the presidential system, with its separate elections for legislature and chief executive, was inherently unstable. In a famous 1990 essay, Linz observed, “All such systems are based on dual democratic legitimacy: No democratic principle exists to resolve disputes between the executive and the legislature about which of the two actually represents the will of the people.” Presidential systems veered ultimately toward collapse everywhere they were tried, as legislators and executives vied for supremacy. There was only one notable exception: the United States of America.
Linz attributed our puzzling, anomalous stability to “the uniquely diffuse character of American political parties.” The Republicans had loads of moderates, and conservative whites in the South still clung to the Democratic Party. At the time he wrote that, the two parties were already sorting themselves into more ideologically pure versions, leaving us where we stand today: with one racially and economically polyglot party of center-left technocracy and one ethnically homogenous reactionary party. The latter is currently attempting to impose its program by threat upon the former. The events in Washington have given us a peek into the Linzian nightmare.
Both House Republicans and the President lay claim to democratic legitimacy and there is no system to resolve the dispute. So we’re left with a slugfest.
Sanford Levinson’s book, Our Undemocratic Constitution, lays out some of the inherent problems with the US system. He argued:
Significant distortions and outright failures of American politics are produced because of-and not merely in spite of-the structure of the government imposed by the Constitution, whatever the contribution of other factors like the mode of campaign financing. [snip]
However divided we are as a country these days, what paradoxically may unite far more than a majority of Americans are deep feelings of inefficacy with regard to being able to participate in what are ostensibly institutions promoting self-governance, as well as feelings of dismay at the actual legislation that is passed (or not passed).
The point is incredibly simple – our system of government as designed includes too many veto points to function if a minority is able to block one of those veto points. What we’re seeing, right now, is the result of that system in action. The shutdown, in which a minority of the House Republicans are able to take the entire nation hostage, is a result of a governing system which diffuses both power and authority.In a parliamentary system, the head of government is chosen by the majority party (or governing coalition) from the legislative branch. The head of government is empowered to enact a specific policy platform and is able to do so because he/she is the same party as that which dominates the legislative branch. The US system, with two, equally powerful houses of Congress, and a separately elected President, includes multiple points at which a minority party can frustrate the will of the majority.
Our current governing crisis is a covert Constitutional crisis. House Republicans essentially argue that the polling shows the ACA is unpopular and therefore they are on the side of the people. That’s simply the convenient, current argument. The deeper battle is informed by a Republican party controlled by movement conservatism which denies the legitimacy of any Democratic president. It’s not just that conservatives deny Barack Obama’s legitimacy, the denied Bill Clinton’s as well. As a result, what we’re seeing play out in DC right now is a slow motion attempt to strip a Democratic president, any Democratic president, of presidential power by a Republican congress which refuses to acknowledge the validity of the outcomes of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. It’s not about any specific policy. Any and every policy supported by a Democratic president is considered inherently invalid and illegitimate.
At Americablog, Becca Morn argued:
It should come as no surprise to regular readers of AMERICAblog that many Republicans have never accepted the legitimacy of the Obama presidency. They’ve been cooking polls to make themselves and their policies seem more popular than they are. When the overwhelming majority of legitimate mainstream polls say their GOP candidates are going to get trounced, they deny the polls are accurate. When they lose elections, they cry fraud, and if there’s any way to tie up the election results in court, they’ll do so.
The Democrats, whatever their many and manifest flaws, don’t do this. Crooked Democratic ballot box shenanigans pretty much ended with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Democrats don’t need to cheat. Republican candidates and policies are unpopular enough, all the Dems really need to do is turn out enough legitimate voters.
Which is, of course, why the Republicans are pulling out all the stops to prevent Democrat-voting demographics from being able to cast a ballot. Their claims it’s because there’s rampant fraud are absolutely bogus.
Everyone is familiar with the ridiculous “birther” conspiracy theories about Barack Obama. Anybody who isn’t as loony as Orly Taitz or ego-maniacal as Donald Trump knows those allegations are total rubbish. Unfounded. Ridiculous. Would not last ten seconds in a legitimate court of law. Nevertheless, the persistence of this meme is an important insight into the psyche of the political opposition.
Birtherism, along with other lies — such as referring to Obama as a Nazi/Communist/Socialist and/or secret Muslim — plus the constant lies about Obamacare “death panels” and the like are how the GOP leaders and their wingnut media lackeys keep the rubes both afraid and entertained. While Louie Gohmert and Michelle Bachman and Sarah Whatshername might actually believe the nonsense crossing their pouty, poxy lips, some ‘serious’ Republicans will dance around with birther language, but they don’t buy the snake oil they’re peddling.
The constitutional crisis is grounded in the refusal of conservatives to accept the outcomes of elections with which they disagree. The result is that conservatives are attacking the constitutional system they claim to venerate.
And so the crisis grinds on with enough Republican believing the nonsense to keep the government shutdown and to cause yet another crisis at the next opportunity. It’s not about any actual policy or bill or program. Movement conservatives have defined American-ness in such a limited way that there is no way for them to accept a black Democratic president as legitimate. And in the face of a system which seems to refuse to accept their arguments about his illegitimacy, they believe they have only the most extreme tactics available to them.
“Yes – Fox News actually just admitted that Obamacare would reduce the deficit. Republicans have continually repeated the lie that Obamacare increases the deficit; it doesn’t.”
From Fox News’ September 6 2012 Democratic National Convention coverage:
Full video HERE.
This chart shows both the increase in revenues and costs and the line in the middle shows the impact on the deficit by year. If the line is below zero then it reduces the deficit and if the line is above zero – it increases the deficit. You can see…the estimate is that it reduces the deficit: Source
The new estimates reflect a couple of factors. The Congressional Budget Office lists them:
– An increase of $168 billion in projected outlays for Medicaid and CHIP;
– A decrease of $97 billion in projected costs for exchange subsidies and related spending;
– A decrease of $20 billion in the cost of tax credits for small employers; and
– An additional $99 billion in net deficit reductions from penalty payments, the excise tax on high-premium insurance plans, and other effects on tax revenues and outlays—with most of those effects reflecting changes in revenues.
Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic digs into the details and rebuts those Republicans who INCORRECTLY say Obamacare now costs double:
To figure out the cost of health care reform, CBO looks at each of the law’s component parts and, for accounting purposes, groups them into different categories. It calls one category “gross cost of coverage expansions” – that’s the amount of money the federal government will spend to help people get insurance, mostly by offering Medicaid to more people or giving people subsidies they can use to help offset the cost of private insurance. Last year, CBO estimated that the gross cost of coverage expansion from 2012 through 2021 would be $1.445 trillion. Now CBO thinks the gross cost will be $1.496 trillion. The number shifted, in part, because the CBO has changed its projections for economic growth. (MSNBC’s Tom Curry has a nice explanation of this.) But, in the context of such a large a budget projection, that’s barely any difference at all.
Certainly part of the reason why today’s Conservative Republicans come off as so stupid is due in large part to Bill O’Reilly’s bullshit “Talking Points Memo.” Recently Bill said:
Bill O’Reilly: Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, now Cypress, all broke. And other European nations are close. Why? Because they are nanny states. And there are not enough workers to support all the entitlements these progressive paradises are handing out.
Economics professor Richard Wolff punished Bill O’Reilly. Here’s his smackdown on Democracy Now on Monday.
Economic Professor Richard Wolff: You know he gets away with saying things which no undergraduate in the United States with a responsible economic professor could ever get away with. If you want to refer to things as nanny states, then the place you go to in Europe is not the southern tier, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. The places you go are Germany and Scandinavia, because they provide more social services to their people than anybody else.
And guess what, not only are they not in trouble economically, they are the winners of the current situation. The unemployment rate in Germany is now below five percent. Ours is pushing between seven and eight percent.
So, ah, please get your facts right Mr. O’Reilly. The nanny state you call it; the program of countries like Germany and Scandinavia who tax their people heavily by all means, but who provide them with social services that would be the envy of the United States, a national health program that takes care of you whether you are employed or not and gives you proper healthcare.
In France for example the law says when you go to work you get five weeks paid vacation. That’s not an option, that’s the law. You get support when you are a new parent, childcare and so forth.
They provide services and they are successful in Germany and Scandinavia, much more than we are in the United States; and much more than those countries in the south.
So they are not broke in the south because they are nanny states, since the nanny states par excellence are doing better than everyone. The actual truth of Mr. O’Reilly is the opposite of what he says. The more you do nanny state, the better off you are during a crisis, and to minimize the cost of the crisis. That’s what the European economic situation actually teaches. He is just making it up as he goes along to conform to an ideological position that is harder and harder for folks like him to sustain so he has to reach further and further into fantasy.
Reprinted in full from Progressive Press
“It’s fine to be a conservative who disagrees with Obama politically. He is a fallible human being. Like any politician, he deserves criticism now and then. Progressives criticize him all the time because his policies are more conservative than many thought he would be.
If you would say “Obama is wrong on this issue and here’s why”, I could respect that. But it’s something else to be a hard-core Glenn Beck parroting, Bush-was-God, Obama-is-Satan, damn-the-facts, anyone-who-disagrees-with-me-is-a-communist, conservative.
Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend the level of hatred you have for President Obama. This hatred is not about dissent and it began long before he even took office and doesn’t seem to stem from anything he’s done as president. Read the rest of this entry »
Why does the Supreme Court keep injecting themselves into our voting system, enabling the plutocrats to get their way? Here comes another 5 to 4 vote. You can count on it. When justice Scalia stunned the court this week by saying the voting rights act is a “perpetuation of racial entitlement”, what was he talking about?
Sounds like Scalia’s living in another era. This is every bit as much about white peoples right to vote as any other race. I’ve been struggling to know my vote is being counted ever since Scalia and his gang of five stole the presidential race in 2000. After all, Scalia said that Americans didn’t necessarily have the RIGHT to vote for their president. He didn’t say anything about congresspeople, but we know that in the 2012 election, Democrats in the house got far more votes then Republicans. Gerrymandering stole the day for the losers there, but let’s face it, republican election fraud has so many avenues in the 21st century, you wouldn’t know where to turn without GPS.
If any of these clueless old white guys who watch Fox “news” think they’re going to benefit from preventing people who make less then a billion dollars a year from voting, they are going to feel pretty silly standing there with their pants down when the realization of what has happened finally hits them. Bush v Gore, Citizens United, and now this! Haven’t we been hearing for years that Judges shouldn’t be legislating from the bench? The Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized numerous times and the last time was in 2005, when the Senate voted 98 to 0 to retain it.
This reminds me of the kind of hubris exposed by Ron Suskind in this 2004 statement, which most now believe was made by Karl Rove, (someone who is widely believed to be rigging our elections):
The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Robert Parry gives an insight into how we got here in his recent article concerning the coming supreme court ruling on the voting rights act:
Over the past half century, wealthy right-wingers have invested millions and millions of dollars in “think tanks” and other research institutions – the likes of Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and Federalist Society – that have worked diligently to cherry-pick the nation’s early history to transform America’s Founding narrative into its opposite, with Washington and Madison made into states’ rights lovers and federal government haters.
The hubris has become so visible that during Obama’s last election, a Republican governor was bragging about suppressing votes for the president, and Fox “news” had to cut to a commercial when Karl Rove tried to halt the announcement of Obama’s victory.
This isn’t just enraging, it’s downright dangerous!
NOTE: OK, I doctored the photo of Scalia, but we all know that’s what he meant.