Archive for category Political Corruption

Keystone XL Zombie Lie

Via Media Matters.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill approving the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Virtually all the Republicans and 28 Democrats voted for this foreign-owned project, which is likely to impose significant environmental costs, cause an increase in American gasoline prices, and contribute to global warming. The proposed 1,200 mile dirty oil pipeline would carry bitumen — a tar-like substance mined from the Alberta tar sands, chemically diluted, and heated to improve flow — at high pressure across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to Gulf Coast refineries. Existing pipelines of this type spring dozens of leaks every year, and the mess is much more difficult to clean up than a crude oil spill.

Why allow this? Right-wing propagandists insist that Keystone XL will create “42,000 jobs.” This is false.

The State Department concluded that the Keystone XL project will result in just 50 jobs, including “35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.” Further, their report stated that spending on the project would support only 3,900 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted one year and just 1,950 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted two years.

President Obama has threatened to veto the congressional attempt to force the issue, however he seems to be keeping the option open to ultimately approve this disastrous project.

UPDATE:
Senate Advances Bill To Approve Keystone Pipeline Despite Obama’s Veto Threat

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Newly-Empowered Tea-GOP Destroys the CBO’s Credibility

Jonathan Chait:

In a rapid vote yesterday, the House directed the Congressional Budget Office to use “dynamic scoring” — a Washington term of art to describe imposing conservative ideology upon the once-neutral task of measuring the budgetary impact of legislation.

…The new, “dynamic” CBO will be systematically biased to make conservative proposals appear misleadingly cheap and liberal proposals misleadingly costly to the public fisc.

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Fox’s Manufactured Benghazi Scandal by the Numbers

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.

Key Findings
?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.

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John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff Booked Into the Salt Lake County Jail

TPM: Two Former GOP Utah Attorneys General Arrested In Corruption Case

The problem of having an elected Utah Attorney General is that campaign contributions and other support tend to come from dishonest characters, not people interested in good government.

UPDATES:
The 5 Wildest Details In The Arrests Of Ex-Utah Attorneys General
Meet The Prosecutor Who Brought Utah’s Largest Corruption Case Ever After The Feds Let It Go
This Alleged Internet Scammer Could Spell Big Trouble For Utah’s Indicted Ex-AGs

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The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox

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The Millionaire Party

Monopoly Man

Tonight on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC show Prof. Dorian Warren of Columbia University (citing the book White Collar Government by Nicholas Carnes) wondered aloud what it would be like if the millionaires formed their own political party, a party representing just 3 percent of Americans.

  • The Millionaire Party would already occupy the White House.
  • They would control the House of Representatives.
  • They would have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
  • And the Millionaires would have a 5-4 Supreme Court majority.

While there is no such thing as the Millionaire Party, does it matter that the wealthiest Americans set the tax rates for the wealthy, that white-collar professionals choose the minimum wage for blue-collar workers, and that people who have always had health insurance decide whether or not to help those without? Could be.

See videos …
Read the rest of this entry »

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The Republican Base: Frustrated, Angry, and Desperate

Ed Kilgore, at Washington Monthly, captures one of the key forces driving the conservative movement – frustration.

Since the 1960s, the conservative movement has been trying to repeal the welfare state:

It’s the Goldwater campaign over and over and over again, with the same goals, the same demonology and the same frustration at Republican Establishment squishes who are willing to settle for what Goldwater himself (in referring to the Eisenhower administration) called a “dime-store New Deal” instead of a rollback of the whole welfare state.  Indeed, the goals are so audacious and the frustration so intense that it can make conservatives look like “nihilists” if you miss the underlying patterns.

Kilgore quoted Ross Douthat:

[W]hat you’re seeing motivating the House Intransigents today, what’s driving their willingness to engage in probably-pointless brinksmanship, is not just anger at a specific Democratic administration, or opposition to a specific program, or disappointment over a single electoral defeat. Rather, it’s a revolt against the long term pattern I’ve just described: Against what these conservatives, and many on the right, see as forty years of failure, in which first Reagan and then Gingrich and now the Tea Party wave have all failed to deliver on the promise of an actual right-wing answer to the big left-wing victories of the 1930s and 1960s — and now, with Obamacare, of Obama’s first two years as well.

From the teabagger perspective, American politics has been defined as defeat followed by defeat even when electoral outcomes looked victorious.  The result is a revanchist movement driven to recreate a mythical golden age before the welfare state and liberalism came along and ruined everything.

Daniel Larison points out:

. . . the experience of the Bush era is a much more important factor than disappointments with inadequate conservative victories of the past. During the Bush era, most conservatives either supported the administration’s domestic and foreign policy agenda or they didn’t put up much of a fight against any of it for at least the first five or six years. Not only did they end up backing a huge expansion of the welfare state and extraordinarily costly foreign wars, but in order to justify these moves they emphasized the value that these things supposedly had for the political fortunes of the GOP. The Bush-era GOP didn’t just fail to roll back previous government expansions, but did a great deal to increase the size and scope of government. Not long after making this bad bargain, conservatives saw the Republicans lose control of Congress, and they were still associated with one of the most unpopular presidents of modern times. Most conservatives backed almost every bad political and policy bet that Bush-era party leaders made, and it all went horribly wrong for both the GOP’s electoral prospects and conservative priorities. Many conservatives realized too late that they had put the political goals of the party first too often, and had deferred to party leaders too frequently, and so now there is great reluctance to do these things under any circumstances.

When any of those same leaders warn them against a certain course of action now, many conservatives, especially those members of Congress elected in the years since the defeats of 2006 and 2008, are not inclined to pay any attention to them.

The Bush administration should have been a roaring success.  It followed the conservative playbook to a T – aggressive foreign policy, tax cuts and weakened regulation at home.  Conservatives followed Bush and his team to defeat.  America turned its back on them and there’s no going back.  FWIW, many teabaggers are angry at Bush and his cronies, seeing them as traitors to the cause, but also as the people responsible for the rise of Barack Obama.

The net result is a movement frustrated at its leaders, angry at its leaders and everyone else, and increasingly desperate as they perceive their window of opportunity (to affect change) closing.

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Ten Years Ago Today . . . And No It Was Not Worth It

I hate looking back.  Ten years ago today the US invastion of Iraq began. 

The push for war with Iraq felt like a time of public madness.  The American media has never been less absolutely incompetent than in those months.  Yeah, the media pretty much sucks now, but back then they were awful beyond the telling of it.  The largest peace rallies in history got no coverage.  American media has spent the last decade hoping no one reminds them how bad they were, how gullible, how insanely biased for the Bush administration they were and how they mindlessly lapped up any lie they were told. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Whole Lotta Ugly from a Whole Lotta Crazy . . .

The fiscal cliff negotiations have simply been too depressing to be believed.

From David Atkins at Digby’s place:

On the long-term consequences, it’s true that the President’s inability to stick to a negotiating position may embolden Republicans to take future hostages. But it’s also entirely unclear that Republicans wouldn’t be emboldened, anyway.

There is no reason to believe that the Republicans wouldn’t do everything in their power to hold the debt ceiling hostage no matter how strongly Obama and Reid had negotiated on the fiscal cliff. If the President takes the Constitutional option to avoid hostage-taking over the debt ceiling, there’s no reason to believe that the Republicans wouldn’t portray him as a dictatorial King George spending hard-working Americans out of their sustenance, justifying their efforts to take even more hostages in the near future out of formerly mundane government functions.[snip]

It doesn’t matter that Americans in general blame Republicans for the fiscal cliff mess far more than Democrats. What matters is that in the vast majority of Republican districts they’re considered heroes for standing up to the evil President, while the few sane or vulnerable ones in the House GOP caucus have no power. So why would they compromise? Why would they buckle? Their voters don’t want them to, and any retreat would only mean a potential challenge from the right. Most of them aren’t the least bit afraid of a Democratic opponent in 2014.

And so the depressing cycle continues.  Republicans get crazier and crazier and behave in ever less socially acceptable ways and are rewarded by Republican voters, who as Atkins points out, are even more nuts than elected Republicans: Read the rest of this entry »

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Obama Secures 50.1% of Votes in Ohio

Give me a break. Please give me a break!

This report from “Democracy Now” was broadcast before the election, and I know everybody is tired of the election, but watch this:

Greg Palast helped win this election for Obama, but we’ll never know how much he won by and I consider that to be a tragedy.

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Mitt Romney Has No Shame and No Decency

The Romney campaign is holding a “storm relief event” at which the press badges read “Victory Rally”, they’re using all the same campaign videos and they have provided a tiny area for donations to storm relief.

Mitt Romney is playing politics while the east coast drowns.  Such behavior is beneath contempt.

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Nixon’s Ghost, Missed Opportunities and Political Gridlock

I’ve long thought that American politics – and economics – went sideways in the 1970s and we’ve never recovered.  The ghost of Richard Nixon continues to haunt American politics.  Nixon’s resignation and Ford’s pardon of him left liberals feeling he’d avoided justly deserved punishment, while conservatives were never convinced his misdeeds were all that serious in the first place.  The Clinton impeachment of the 90s was little more than conservatives avenging Nixon on Democrats.  The invasion of Iraq was an attempt to refight (and win!) the Vietnam war, to restore the military and to show liberals once and for all the supporters of war were right.  Amidst the ruins of the Bush administrations, conservatives were neither chastised nor educated; the ascendant tea party was nothing more than an attempt to redeem conservatism itself.  Faced with disaster in every direction, unable to admit the problem lies not in their stars but themselves, conservatives doubled down on their ideology and have engaged in an idelogical terror that would make Stalin or Chairman Mao proud.

The left – burdened by a connection to reality – has proven unable to deal with the right’s lunacy and tantrums for the same reason a parent can’t control a child’s tantrum.  Pushed bey0nd reason by the ever-unfolding disasters of the Bush presidency, and then the shock of losing to Barack Obama in 2008, conservatives collectively lost their minds and have spent years having a public fit.  And so the whole political system has ground to a painful halt.

Could it have been avoided? Read the rest of this entry »

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