Jan 29 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #869

ON THE RECORD ….

“Week one, we had a Speaker election that didn’t go as well as a lot of us would have liked. Week two, we spent a lot of time talking about deporting children, a conversation a lot of us didn’t want to have. Week three, we’re debating reportable rape and incest — again, not an issue a lot of us wanted to have a conversation about. I just can’t wait for week four.” — Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) 1/22/15

“My grand-daddy used to say you don’t learn much from the second kick of a mule.” — Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), on Mitt Romney running for president again. 1/22/15

“I was leading in every poll. … I regret that I didn’t stay in … I would’ve won the race against Obama. He would’ve been easy. Hillary is tougher to beat than Obama, but Hillary is very beatable. … He (Romney) failed. He choked. He’s like a deal-maker that didn’t close the deal. He shouldn’t be running again. He had a great opportunity to win against a president that was absolutely lame, and he didn’t do it. The 47 percent statement, which was a disaster, is not going away. Romneycare is not going away. All of his problems are not going away. He should get out and get out quickly.” — Donald Trump 1/24/15

“I’m with Ann Romney on this one: No, no, no, no, never.” — Sen. Rand Paul, (R-KY) on the notion of a third Mitt Romney candidacy. 1/26/15

The Republican-led House is planning to vote next week to fully repeal Obamacare, a GOP leadership said on Wednesday. This will be the 4th House vote to repeal the law in its entirety, and the latest in more than 50 votes aimed at dismantling the ACA. — TPM 1/27/15

“I am totally outraged at Speaker Boehner for doing it, I think it’s, it was deliberately designed to undermine the president — that’s close to subversion.” — Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) on House Speaker John Boehner inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to the House of Representatives. 1/26/15

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1. Jon Stewart: Democalypse 2016 – Fox News Correspondent Auditions

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/k42ti0/democalypse-2016—fox-news-correspondent-auditions

2. The Borowitz Report: Republican Candidates Descend on Iowa

Republican Presidential candidates descended on Iowa over the weekend, giving Iowans a rare opportunity to evaluate all thirty thousand hopefuls in one place.

The candidates were a big hit with their G.O.P. audience, who attempted to determine which of the thirty thousand would do the best job of eviscerating Obamacare and deporting college students.

Attendees gave an especially warm welcome to the businessman Donald Trump, whose potential entry into the 2016 race would instantly raise the credibility of everyone else.

EARLIER: President Obama’s proposal to give workers six weeks of paid leave is meeting strong opposition from a group of people who annually receive thirty-three weeks of paid leave.

For example, they were confused by Obama’s challenge to try to survive on a full-time job that pays fifteen thousand dollars, since they all currently hold a part-time job that pays a hundred and seventy-four thousand dollars. Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

3. The YouTube Interview with President Obama

https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-cl=84503534&x-yt-ts=1421914688&v=GbR6iQ62v9k

4. The DAILY GRILL

“Listen, the more the president talks about his ideas, the more unpopular he becomes. Why would I want to deprive him of that opportunity?” — House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) when asked, in December of 2014, if he planned to extend an invitation to Obama to deliver the State of the Union address.

VERSUS

On the day of the State of the Union address, Obama’s approval rating was just a little underwater – 46% approval, 49% disapproval. As of today, those numbers are largely reversed – 50% approval, 45% disapproval. — Gallup tracking data.

STOTU-speech5

5. GOP’s War on Women (Continued)

The House easily passed H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015 that would permanently prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion. The House bill would also restrict small businesses from getting an Affordable Care Act tax credit if they purchase employee health plans that include abortion coverage on the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP exchange. 1/22/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/house-abortion-ban-federal-funding-114497.html#ixzz3PbBqsPTT

6. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Right-Wing Media Attack House GOP For “Cowardice” In Dropping Abortion Bill http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/01/22/right-wing-media-attack-house-gop-for-cowardice/202237

Limbaugh Rehashes Debunked Myth To Claim Granting DREAMers Driver’s Licenses Is A Democratic Voter Fraud Scheme http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/01/23/limbaugh-rehashes-debunked-myth-to-claim-granti/202252

Memo To The Media: GOP-Led Senate Is Still Denying Climate Science http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/01/23/memo-to-the-media-gop-led-senate-is-still-denyi/202251

Beltway Press Loves To Cover Polling, Except When It’s Hillary’s http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/01/23/beltway-press-loves-to-cover-polling-except-whe/202248

Fox & Friends Hosts Suggest Lindsey Graham Could Be Answer To GOP’s 2016 Hopes http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/01/23/fox-amp-friends-hosts-suggest-lindsey-graham-co/202246

The No-Go Zone Myth Comes To America http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/01/26/the-no-go-zone-myth-comes-to-america/202263

One Year Later, NRA’s Ted Nugent Says His “Subhuman Mongrel” Slur Was “Too Delicate” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/01/26/one-year-later-nras-ted-nugent-says-his-subhuma/202262

7. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“Last night was the State of the Union address, and everyone’s excited about the huge special appearance by a guy we haven’t seen in a really long time: 2008 Barack Obama. That guy had swagger.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Tonight President Obama gave the State of the Union address. Obama said he was more relaxed just because he’s already done it so many times. Incidentally, Mitt Romney said the same thing about running for president.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The IRS suggests filing early to reduce the chance that someone will steal your identity and file before you. Honestly, if somebody wants my identity so badly they’ll file my tax return for me, go crazy. You can mow my lawn while you’re at it, too.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“A new survey shows that most people trust Google more as a source for current events than traditional news outlets. Traditional news outlets didn’t believe the news until they Googled it.” –Seth Meyers

“The RNC released its first presidential debate schedule, which includes at least nine debates in different states across the country. As opposed to the Democratic debates, which will just be Hillary staring at her opponents until they burst into flames.” –Jimmy Fallon

“According to a new poll, nearly six out of 10 Republicans want Mitt Romney to run for president. So do 10 out of 10 Democrats.” –Conan O’Brien

8. US Senate vote on climate change

Fifty US senators affirmed that they indeed do believe that the activities of human beings contribute to climate change. OK. But 49 senators—fully half the upper house that represents our grand republic—do not. So, hey, you go out there and burn whatever carbon you want to? Not sure what to make of that. Of the senators who think climate change is some other species’ problem, unsurprisingly, are all Republican, and the the senators who wish we’d maybe do something about it.are, except for two Republicans, all Democrats. 1.21.15 Read more at http://www.wired.com/2015/01/senators-dont-believe-human-caused-climate-change/

Dorothy-climate

9. Jon Stewart: ‘Monsters Of Money’

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/r4vd91/wealthstock—insurance-vice

10. Mark Fiore: Whip Steve Scalise

https://vimeo.com/116795264

11. GOP clown car runs into ditch

The Republican Party’s clown car has become a clown van.

With nearly two dozen possible presidential candidates, the GOP is having a seriousness deficit. There can’t possibly be that many people who are real candidates.

But they can ride in the clown car from event to event, and nobody can stop them.

Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster, told the Freedom Summit crowd, “Don’t worry about being called mean. Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is the second most influential person in her own household. I would say Hillary Clinton has the wrong vision for America, but I don’t know what it is.”

Bill O’Brien, a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, told the crowd: “I don’t know what is worse, nominating someone because he has been nominated once before (i.e., Mitt Romney) or someone who endorses Common Core (i.e., Jeb Bush). Are we going to nominate one of them?”

The audience bellowed: “Noooooo.”

Roger Simon 1/24/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/gop-clown-car-runs-into-ditch-114565.html

12. The Kochs put a price on 2016: $889 million

The Koch brothers’ operation intends to spend $889 million in the run-up to the 2016 elections — an historic sum that in many ways would mark Charles and David Koch and their fellow conservative mega-donors as more powerful than the official Republican Party. 1/26/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/koch-2016-spending-goal-114604.html

OPINION

1. E.J. Dionne: Obama: Damn the Torpedoes

“This is good news, people.”

With those five words, President Obama made clear that he thinks it’s far more important to win a long-term argument with his partisan and ideological opponents than to pretend that they are eager to seize opportunities to work with him. He decided to deal with the Republican Party he has, not the Republican Party he wishes he had.

Those ad-libbed words followed what ranks as one of the more polemical passages ever offered in a State of the Union address. “At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious,” he declared, “that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years.”

Good news, indeed, and in telling the Republicans that all their predictions turned out to be wrong, he was also reminding his fellow citizens which side, which policies and which president had brought the country back.

His analysis of the nature of his political opposition, in turn, dictated the approach he took in the rest of the speech. There was no point in hedging on his wishes, constraining his hopes, and compromising in advance. Earlier in his administration, he might have begun the negotiations by offering his interlocutors their asking price upfront and then moving backward from there. No more. 1/21/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/01/21/obama_damn_the_torpedoes_125339.html

STOTU-speech3

2. Dana Milbank: Republicans pulled a classic bait-and-switch with abortion bill

Just two weeks into the new Congress, they voted Tuesday afternoon to bring to the House floor their current priority: a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. The legislation, which doesn’t even grant exceptions to victims of rape unless they report it to police, was scheduled to be taken up Thursday — on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade and coinciding with the annual March for Life.

It was a classic bait-and-switch.

Abortion got barely a mention in last year’s campaign, which led to unified Republican control of Congress. Voters in exit polls said their top priorities were the economy (45 percent), health care (25 percent), immigration (14 percent) and foreign policy (13 percent) — not surprising, given that these are the issues Republicans talked about. A Gallup poll after the election found that fewer than 0.5 percent of Americans think abortion should be the top issue, placing it behind at least 33 other issues.

But instead of doing what voters wanted, House Republicans set out to make one of their first orders of business a revival of the culture wars. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the new Senate majority leader, promised to take up the bill, too. 1/21/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/gop-abortion-bill-a-classic-bait-and-switch/2015/01/21/1620fdd2-a1ad-11e4-b146-577832eafcb4_story.html

3. Max Fisher: John Boehner’s outrageous plan to help a foreign leader undermine Obama

House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress in February, on the topic of Iran. On the surface, this might seem innocent enough. Israel is a close American ally. Surely he should be welcome in Congress, particularly to discuss an issue that concerns his country.

On the surface, Netanyahu’s speech will be about opposing Obama’s nuclear talks with Iran and supporting Republican-led sanctions meant to blow up those talks.

But there’s more than meets the eye here. Netanyahu is playing a game with US domestic politics to try to undermine and pressure Obama — and thus steer US foreign policy. Boehner wants to help him out. By reaching out to Netanyahu directly and setting up a visit without the knowledge of the White House, he is undermining not just Obama’s policies but his very leadership of US foreign policy. The fact that Netanyahu is once again meddling in American politics, and that a US political party is siding with a foreign country over their own president, is extremely unusual, and a major break with the way that foreign relations usually work.1/21/15 Read more at http://www.vox.com/2015/1/21/7866089/netanyahu-boehner-congress

 netanyahu4

4. Michael Tomasky: Three Cheers for the Death Tax!

Please, conservatives. Taxing wealth appropriately is not just defensible. It’s moral. And I have some pretty good back-up on this position.

Of all the Obama proposals unveiled in the State of the Union address, the one that’s probably drawn the most right-wing fire is the one that would close an inheritance capital-gains tax loophole. This is because Republicans talk about inheritance taxes not just in practical terms but moral ones. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah tea partier in the House, thundered away the other day: “That’s a non-starter. The audacity, that he thinks the government has a right to people’s money? He wants to transfer wealth. It’s one of the most immoral things you can do, is try to steal somebody’s inheritance, to steal it away from their family.”

Chaffetz has it exactly backwards. Undertaxing inherited wealth is what’s immoral. I have pretty good back-up on this point, which I’ll get to. But first, hear the argument. And for openers, let me stipulate that everything I’m about to say applies only to fortunes—certainly not to all inherited money.

That would be absurd. If your parents were thrifty enough to have left you $500,000 or even $1 million, which ain’t “rich” these days, no one—no one—wants to take a red cent of that from you. That’ll help you buy a home, pay for your kids’ college, and eventually if all goes well pay for their kids’ college. So normal pass-downs of money aren’t on the table here.

So, right now, according to this Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, the estate tax doesn’t start until $5.43 million per person or $10.86 million per couple. That’s high enough that only the wealthiest .15 percent of Americans pay any estate tax. Among the 3,780 U.S. households that owed any estate tax in 2013, their average tax rate was 16.6 percent. There are massive loopholes that many rich people take advantage of to avoid even that.

So the conservative position is immoral and un-American. It’s also un-conservative. I say this because well, on matters economic, who is the conservatives’ great hero? Maybe Hayek. But he’s like the Lebron. The Jordan is still Adam Smith. And Adam Smith believed in taxing huge wealth. He wrote this: “A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fullness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural. There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death.” 1.23.15 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/23/three-cheers-for-the-death-tax.html

one-percent

5. Dana Milbank: Get used to Obama’s swagger

Here’s some practical advice to those who didn’t like President Obama’s swagger during his State of the Union address: Get used to it.

Economic indicators suggest he’s going to have even more to crow about in the months to come.

Obama taunted his Republican opponents on Tuesday night, reminding them in an off-the-cuff remark that he won both of his presidential runs and boasting about the suddenly booming economy: “At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health-care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years. This is good news, people.”

His cocky, colloquial cadence was a bit much, but it’s hard to deny Obama a victory lap now that Americans are optimistic about the economy after six years of misery. This isn’t necessarily the result of his policies — but neither were the six years in the doldrums his fault. This president, like all presidents, gets the blame when the economy is weak and the credit when it is strong.

In that sense, people may not appreciate the extent to which Obama is likely to be ascendant in his final two years in office. It happened rather suddenly in the past couple of months, but the lame-duck path Obama was on now looks more like Ronald Reagan’s in 1987 and 1988. If the economy continues on its current trajectory, as most expect, he’ll leave office a popular president and leave the 2016 Democratic nominee with a relatively easy path to victory.

Barring shocks and catastrophe, though, the rising confidence in the economy also bodes well for a win in 2016 by Hillary Clinton or another Democratic nominee. As a general rule, the party of the incumbent president will win an election if the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index is above 100. The index was at 92.6 in December, up from 44.9 in 2008 and 71.5 in 2012.

Barring the unforeseen, the index will soon rise above 100 and remain there for the rest of Obama’s term. His opponents may not think it fair, but the return of the American consumer’s long-suppressed optimism will keep a swagger in the presidential step. 1/23/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-get-used-to-obamas-swagger/2015/01/23/8efc3606-a304-11e4-b146-577832eafcb4_story.html

6. Jeffrey Goldberg: The Netanyahu Disaster

An even more obvious flaw: John Boehner is not the commander-in-chief, and does not make U.S. foreign policy. Netanyahu might find Boehner’s approach to Iran more politically and emotionally satisfying than Obama’s, but this is irrelevant. Yes, Congress can pass new sanctions against Iran, but it is the executive branch that drives U.S. Iran policy. Barack Obama will be president for two more years, and it makes absolutely no sense for an Israeli leader to side so ostentatiously with a sitting American president’s domestic political opposition.

Netanyahu appears to believe that his mission is singular, but Israeli prime ministers, in fact, have two main tasks. The first is to protect their country from existential threats. The second: To work very hard to stay on the good side of the president and people of the United States. Success in accomplishing this first task is sometimes predicated on achieving this second task.

Israel has been, for several decades, a bipartisan cause in Washington. Bipartisan support accounts for the ease with which Israeli prime ministers have historically been heard in Washington; it accounts for the generous aid packages Israel receives; and it also explains America’s commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge.  

Netanyahu’s management of his relationship with Obama threatens the bipartisan nature of Israel’s American support. His Dermer-inspired, Boehner-enabled end-run has alienated three crucially important constituencies. First, the administration itself: Netanyahu’s estrangement from the Obama White House now appears to be permanent. It will be very difficult for Netanyahu to make the White House hear his criticisms of whatever deal may one day be reached with Iran.

The manner and execution and overall tone-deafness of Netanyahu’s recent ploy suggest that he—and his current ambassador—don’t understand how to manage Israel’s relationships in Washington. Netanyahu wants a role in shaping the Iranian nuclear agreement, should one materialize. His recent actions suggest that he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing. 1/27/15 Read more at http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/01/Netanyahu-vs-Obama-on-Iran/384849/

7. Arif Rafiq: Bobby Jindal’s Muslim Problem

Bobby Jindal, who was born a Hindu, has a Muslim problem. The Louisiana governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate has been repeating a lie that even Fox News was forced to apologize for. In an address before the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society in London last week, Jindal warned of so-called Muslim “no-go zones” in the West—areas in which “non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can.”

He has since doubled down on the claim, even after being pressed for evidence by a British journalist and failing to provide it. Instead, Jindal asserted that no-go zones “absolutely is an issue for the UK [and] absolutely is an issue for America and other European [or] Western nations.”

It’s a sad thing to say for a Hindu convert to Christianity who changed his name from “Piyush” to “Bobby” and paints himself as a model immigrant, but Muslim-baiting is a key part of Jindal’s pitch to a demographic that he is aggressively courting: evangelical conservatives.

Among evangelicals, there is a growing anti-Muslim subculture. This isn’t simply a reaction to terrorism perpetrated by jihadists or the undeniable persecution of Christians in Muslim-majority countries. Evangelicals are being taught to suspect and disdain peaceful Muslims who live in their own country. And that culture of fear is exactly what Jindal is playing into.

There’s a cottage industry of terrorism experts and ex-Muslims who speak at evangelical churches and conferences warning about imaginary Muslim plots to take over the United States and establish “sharia law.” 1/25/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/bobby-jindals-muslim-problem-114579.html

Jindal_No_Go_Zone

8. Sam Kleiner: Romney’s Foreign Policy Foresight a Myth

The truth is that Romney is not running because he has a vision for our nation’s foreign policy; he is running because he doesn’t know how to accept that his candidacy has already been rejected. Michael Ignatieff, one of the world’s foremost political philosophers and a failed candidate for Prime Minister in Canada, said that candidates who “enjoyed success outside of politics, in academia or journalism or business, [often] go into politics with the reasonable assumption that the prestige they achieved in their former profession should automatically transfer into politics. It doesn’t.” Romney has always been confused about why Americans don’t support him and he assumes that his success in business entitles him to a position on the national stage. “People who think they’re entitled to standing—because they are brainy, rich, or famous—almost always lose,” Ignatieff concluded.

If Romney ultimately decides to jump in the race, we will no doubt hear a great deal about how he was right on important foreign policy questions. Some supporters may even claim that he is a Nostradamus for our era. The reality is that Romney has offered little vision for what his foreign policy would look like and once you dig a bit deeper, his redemption story is a hollow one. 1/27/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/27/romney-s-foreign-policy-foresight-a-myth.html

9. Mark Morford: Are the Koch brothers the worst humans in America?

There’s a storm coming, and it’s far worse than the east coast blizzard, or CA’s beloved “superstorm,” or Katrina, or the Iraq fiasco, or Bush/Gore’s hanging chads, et al.

It’s a storm made entirely of money, power, bloviated ego, malignant pollution and a brand of calculated, savage greed the nation hasn’t seen since the days of the railroad tycoons and robber barons, if ever.

This particular hate-storm is borne of a single question: What would you get if you crossed a ruthless drug kingpin, a mafia crime lord, the willful blindness of the NRA, the combined CEOs of Monsanto, Exxon and RJ Reynolds and a couple scared old wolverines with God complex and a penchant for contaminating the world?

Why, you’d get the brothers Koch, of course, David and Charles, easily the most unsavory, power-mad libertarian mega-capitalists in modern American history. 1/28/15 Read more at http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2015/01/28/are-the-koch-brothers-the-worst-humans-in-america/?cmpid=NLmorford

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