ON THE RECORD ….
“I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other.” — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), responding to a British moderator who asked him if he believes in evolution.
“Boehner has no one to blame but himself. He’s the one who let the House GOP’s crazy caucus, chaired by Rep. Steve King, lead the charge on attaching anti-immigrant riders that will increase the deficit to the Homeland Security funding bill.” — Kerry Eleveld in the Daily Kos on Rep. Boehner who is not only blaming Democrats for failure to pass the DHS funding bill, but also pointing the finger at Senator Mitch McConnell. 2/12/15
“I won’t talk about the past. I’ll talk about the future. If I’m in the process of considering the possibility of running, it’s not about re-litigating anything in the past. It’s about trying to create a set of ideas and principles that will help us move forward.” — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who isn’t interested in talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially as it relates to his brother. 2/14/15
“This power over marriage, which came from God under our organic law, is not to be redefined by the United States Supreme Court or any federal court.” — Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore saying that he wouldn’t be bound by a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. 2/15/15
“I’m just not that scared of sticking to principles and filling campaign promises that we made back home, irrespective of what leadership tells us to do here.” — Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fl), representing the views of hard-line GOP conservatives on the possibility of Department of Homeland Security shutdown. 2/15/15
“And, if he does stand in the way, particularly of things that are vital to the security of this country, then I think we can start talking about treason. If things are done to the contrary to the security of this country, whoever does them is guilty of treason.” — Potenital presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson 2/17/15
“The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts, and the district court in Washington, D.C. have determined that the President’s actions are well within his legal authority.Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision.” —White House spokesman Josh Earnest on the Texas Court ordered halt to President Obama’s executive actions to shield more than four million people from the possibility of deportation. 2/17/15
“There’s a lot at stake for our communities. This is not only a blow to those who would benefit and their families, but it’s a blow to all of us and the chance to build a stronger and more cohesive community because these are our neighbors—they live among us, they go to church with us, they’re next to us at the movies and the grocery store.” — Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to “stop” his obsession with targeting immigrant communities. 2/18/15 s
1. The Borowitz Report: Bush Says He Will Harm Nation Differently from His Brother
In an effort to distance himself from the legacy of his brother, George W. Bush, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will use a major foreign-policy speech on Wednesday to assert that, if elected President, he would harm the nation in completely different ways.
“A lot of people are looking at me and thinking that I’m just going to be a rerun of my brother,” Bush told reporters before the speech. “They are greatly underestimating my ability to create chaos and destruction in ways that are uniquely mine.”
As an example, Bush said, he was unlikely to invade Iraq for a third time, calling such an action “too derivative.”
“George already did it, and Dad did it before him,” he said. “Call it my independent streak, if you will, but I want to spawn some disasters of my own.”
To that end, Bush said that he and his foreign-policy team were already scanning the globe for “new and different places” where the United States could become involved in open-ended and pointless quagmires.
“I see boundless opportunities for the reckless and totally optional insertion of American military force,” he said. “No offense to my brother, but there were a few spots that George missed.” Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/
2. The DAILY GRILL
“Texas has been criticized for having a large number of uninsured, but that’s what Texans wanted.” — Rick Perry (R) 2/11/15
More than 1 million people have signed up for ObamaCare plans in Texas in 2015, an 80 percent increase over last year. — The Hill 2/11/15
“So, we’re surrendering around the world, we’re surrendering our embassy, and now we’re asking U.S. Marines to surrender their dignity, give up oaths that they made, creeds that they live by, and surrender their rifle. … Who thought it was right thing for Marines to hand over their weapons to Yemeni officials before evacuating the country. Someone botched the plan. … It is maddening how naive this administration is.” — Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth on Fox’s The Kelly File. 2/11/15
“All crew served weapons were destroyed at the embassy prior to movement. None of them were ‘handed over’ in any way to anyone. The destruction of weapons at the embassy and the airport was carried out in accordance with an approved destruction plan. To be clear: No Marine handed a weapon to a Houthi, or had one taken from him.” — Marine Corps statement 2/11/15
“The Republicans — if there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown — we should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, ‘You are responsible for these dead Americans.’” — Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Il) on 2/10/15
“I generally agree with the Democratic position here.” — Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) on 2/12/15 after a poll showed that Illinois voters approved of Obama’s immigration measures 62-30.
“Once you start doing that [paying ransom], then everybody, every American citizen traveling abroad becomes a subject in regard for kidnapping and then the plight of how much money has been captivated in the Boca Raton group.” — Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). 2/11/14
“While I’m pleased that the congressman from Arizona would have the name of Boca Raton on his lips, I am disappointed that he would confuse our vibrant, beautiful city with a movement promoting Islamist insurgency in Nigeria.” — Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie saying she is unfamiliar with the group in her city. 2/11/14
3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)
Limbaugh Advises Scott Walker To Say He Left College To Avoid Being “Accused Of Rape”http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/12/limbaugh-advises-scott-walker-to-say-he-left-co/202516
Fox Business Host: Food Stamp Program Is A “Deliberate” Effort To Buy Votes http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/12/fox-business-host-food-stamp-program-is-a-delib/202508
Limbaugh Furious That Republicans “Were Never Really Willing To Shut Down” Homeland Security Over Obama’s Immigration Action http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/11/limbaugh-furious-that-republicans-were-never-re/202493
Fox’s Erick Erickson Rallies Supporters Behind Anti-Gay License-To-Discriminate Laws http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/13/foxs-erick-erickson-rallies-supporters-behind-a/202527
Fox News Plagiarizes RNC’s Hillary Clinton Attack Campaign http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/13/fox-news-plagiarizes-rncs-hillary-clinton-attac/202523
Megyn Kelly On Jon Stewart Leaving The Daily Show: “I Don’t Think Overall He’s Been A Force For Good” … “In His Later Years He Got A Little Nasty”http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/13/megyn-kelly-on-jon-stewart-leaving-the-daily-sh/202537
Cue Conservative Media Outrage Over Obama’s Selfie, Use Of “YOLO” In BuzzFeed Video http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/02/13/cue-conservative-media-outrage-over-obamas-self/202531
Right-Wing Media Attack Obama For Tying Terror To Poverty Years After Bush Made The Same Connection http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/02/17/right-wing-media-attack-obama-for-tying-terror/202548
The Unbearable Stupidity Of Obama’s “Muslim Gang Sign”http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/18/the-unbearable-stupidity-of-obamas-muslim-gang/202550
4. ObamaCare signups surge in southern states
Signups for ObamaCare are surging in southern states, with increases of nearly 100 percent in some states compared to last year, federal health officials said Wednesday.
Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina and Mississippi have each seen 80 percent more signups compared to last year, Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt said.
The trend is particularly significant given that the Republican governors in each of the states have made little or no effort to promote signups, leaving the outreach to state and national healthcare advocacy groups. State leaders, like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, have been some of the law’s harshest critics.
“Real simply, I think word is spreading. I think word of mouth is spreading really positively as neighbors tell neighbors how easy it’s been to get coverage this year,” Slavitt told reporters in a briefing Wednesday. 2/11/15 Read more at http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/232489-obamacare-signups-surge-in-southern-states
5. Late Night Jokes for Dems
“A new report says that last year Colorado collected $44 million in marijuana taxes. Unfortunately, they can’t remember where they put it.” –Conan O’Brien
“Axelrod also said in his new book that Obama lied to Americans to get votes in 2008 when he said he opposed gay marriage. Of course, Republicans have already turned it into a scandal: BenGayZi. It’s trending right now.” –Jimmy Fallon
“A lawmaker in Tennessee is pushing to make the Bible the official state book. It would replace Tennessee’s current state book, the menu at Cracker Barrel.” –Seth Meyers
“Never again will Brian Williams mislead this great nation about being shot at in a war we probably wouldn’t have ended up in if the media had applied this level of scrutiny to the actual f**king war.” –Jon Stewart
“There’s a rumor that NBC is going to have Tom Brokaw fill in temporarily as the NBC News anchor. When asked why, a network spokesperson said, ‘Because the only other NBC person we have is Bill Cosby.'” –Conan O’Brien
“Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush has released all of his emails. I’d like to release all of my emails. I’ve got nothing but emails about low-cost funerals and Viagra.” –David Letterman
“Now people want Brian Williams to resign, but it could have a happy ending. Apparently what he said was such a blatant departure from the truth, today he got an offer from Fox News.” –Bill Maher
“House Speaker John Boehner said the Republican Party will no longer stand in the way of gay marriage. Then Boehner said, ‘Now can I go to Elton John’s Oscar party?'” –Conan O’Brien
“At today’s National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama and the Dalai Lama avoided a direct meeting. Uh-oh, sounds like there may be some Obama-Lama drama.” –Seth Meyers
6. The GOP’s War against gay rights (Continued)
“The Arkansas legislature gave its final thumbs up Friday to a bill that would block cities and counties from enacting anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT people,” 2/13/15 Read more at http://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/arkansas-legislature-passes-bill-allowing-lgbt-discriminatio
7. President Obama’s BuzzFeed video: Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About
8. The Top 10 ‘SNL’ Political Sketches Of All Time
9. GOP Governors Propose Raising Taxes on Poor
A number of Republican-led states are considering tax changes that in many cases would have the effect of cutting taxes on the rich and raising them on the poor.
Of the 10 or so Republican governors who have proposed tax increases, nearly all have called for increases in consumption taxes, which hit the poor and middle class harder than the rich. 2/14/15 Read more at http://politicalwire.com/2015/02/14/gop-governors-propose-raising-taxes-poor/
10. Republicans Losing Another Shutdown Showdown
In our experience, there’s a simple rule to follow to make sense of any shutdown showdown: The side that’s divided usually loses. And Republicans are the ones who are divided in the battle over funding the Department of Homeland Security — over whether or not to include riders overturning Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Playing politics with security is always problematic. But it’s doubly problematic when your party is divided. 2/16/15 Read more at http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/walker-bush-meet-your-republican-presidential-frontrunners-n306981
11. Republicans Unable to Get Congress Working
After six weeks in session and 139 roll call votes in a House and Senate that feature some of the largest Republican majorities in generations, one of the most telling statistics from the new Congress is this: President Obama’s veto threats outnumber the bills Congress has been able to send him.
When Republicans swept into power last November, they promised a new era of productivity and discipline that would break four years of gridlock… But far from striking a bold contrast with the last two terms of stalemate, congressional Republicans have quickly run into familiar obstacles, including partisan paralysis and party infighting.” 2/16/15 Read more at http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-gop-congress-assessment-20150215-story.html#page=1
12. The Five Most Memorable Eviscerations From Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’ Run
13. Survey | Roughly Three-Quarters of Americans Favor Goals of Obama’s Immigration Action
Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Americans say Republicans in Congress should prioritize passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation over legislation that would overturn Obama’s immigration policies. Seventeen percent say Republicans in Congress should prioritize undoing Obama’s immigration policies. http://publicreligion.org/research/2015/02/survey-roughly-three-quarters-favor-substance-behind-obamas-immigration-reform/
14. Blame Would Fall on GOP for Shutdown
A new CNN/ORC poll finds Republicans in Congress would shoulder the blame for a shutdown at the Department of Homeland Security more than President Obama if they are unable to enact a new spending bill to keep the agency running, 53% to 30%. Another 13% say both deserve the blame. 2/17/14 http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/17/politics/poll-dhs-funding-gop/index.html
15. Jeb Bush’s foreign policy team is eerily familiar, in one Venn diagram
1. Peter Beinart: Is Jeb Bush Buying the Nomination?
Jeb’s weaknesses are hiding in plain sight. They’ve just been obscured by his dazzling success in raising cash.
If Bush’s well-known last name did not provide him with such epic fundraising capacity, in fact, he’d be George Pataki: a dull, moderately conservative former governor of a large state who has been out of politics for a while.
In winning the money primary, Bush is crowding out potential candidates with greater appeal to actual voters. Consider Marco Rubio. He’s a more natural politician. Despite an immigration stance similar to Bush’s, he has a stronger connection to the GOP’s conservative base. And given his youth and lack of connections to previous Republican administrations, he would naturally embody change. Yet as a fellow Floridian, Rubio is the candidate Jeb hurts the most.
On ideological grounds, Republicans generally hate public financing of campaigns. But in 2016, they need it more than Democrats. Right now, the people with the greatest influence over the GOP’s next presidential nominee are caucusing not in Sioux City but Central Park West. And they’re choosing the wrong guy. 2/12/15 Read more at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/is-jeb-bush-buying-the-nomination/385433/
2. John Cassidy: On Immigration, the G.O.P. Won’t Take “You Win” for an Answer
Back in June, 2013, the Senate, with the encouragement and involvement of the White House, passed a comprehensive immigration bill that had the support of fourteen Republicans, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio. The legislation included funds for twenty thousand new border-patrol agents and seven hundred miles of electric fencing. And it provided a convoluted, thirteen-year pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who could show that they had obeyed the law and paid their taxes. It died in the House of Representatives, and eventually the White House looked for a way to do an end-run around Congress.
If Boehner and his colleagues resurrected and passed the Senate bill tomorrow, Obama would sign it in an instant. It’s not going to happen, of course, and that’s why Hanen’s ruling, although it has given Republicans something to cheer about, could end up helping to deprive them of the White House. If the new deportation system were to go into effect as planned, it would have been up and running for more than eighteen months come Election Day, and there wouldn’t have been any real prospect of it being reversed. Like Obamacare, another Republican hate object, it would have become a fact on the ground.
Now everything is up in the air again, which means that immigration will be a central issue in 2016. That can’t be good news for the Republicans. .2/18/15 Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/immigration-gop-wont-take-you-win-for-answer
3. Simon Maloy: Republicans in disarray: GOP can’t quite decide who’s to blame for a govt. shutdown
We’re about two weeks shy from the deadline for funding the Department of Homeland Security, and the chances of sending DHS into a “shutdown” grow larger with each passing moment. Republicans in the House keep insisting that funding for the department be tied to legislation undoing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and Republicans in the Senate can’t overcome Democratic filibusters.
The whole legislative process is stalled, and you all know what that means: it’s time to start working the refs and preemptively affixing blame for once again failing to perform the basic functions of government. The Republicans are trying their damnedest to pin this all on the Democrats, but they’re being tripped up by the fact that they also can’t stop blaming themselves.
So who will be to blame for a shutdown at DHS? Well, the straightforward assessment of the situation is that DHS would already be funded if the Republicans weren’t adamant about using the appropriations bill to force a showdown with the president (a showdown they wouldn’t win even if their bill passed the Senate). But blame is also contingent upon how the public perceives the conflict, and right now the GOP is in complete disarray in its messaging efforts, to say nothing of its legislative strategy. “Unless they can …get a bill passed that forces a presidential veto, Republicans are likely to own any shutdown of DHS,” NBC News concluded. The GOP can’t do that, but they seem hell bent on keeping the circular firing squad going for as long as they can before they inevitably give in. 2/12/15 Read more at http://www.salon.com/2015/02/12/republicans_in_disarray_gop_cant_quite_decide_whos_to_blame_for_a_govt_shutdown/
4. Ed Rogers: The Insiders: Why is immigration so hard for Republicans to get?
It is only a month into the 114th Congress and it is no surprise there is already trouble within the GOP ranks over how to handle immigration. As the Wall Street Journal rightly pointed out, “the only winners of GOP dysfunction will be Mr. Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.” Listening to some of the rhetoric, you could almost believe that some within the GOP caucus think anything short of capital punishment or complete expulsion of all illegal immigrants is “amnesty.” So what is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to do?
To state the obvious, McConnell needs to convince Senate Republicans that they are not going to get everything they want in a bill. President Obama’s executive actions are a reason to pass immigration reform, not a reason not to. And the last thing we need is for all funding for the Department of Homeland Security to be cut off because Congress can’t reach a compromise. Allowing DHS funding to expire would have the equivalent effect of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) shutting down the government over Obamacare in 2013. And, as my friend, the former governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour says, “You don’t learn much from the second kick of a mule.” If DHS funding expires, it will hurt Republicans and help the Democrats. Period.
The feud over immigration reform is alienating voters from the Republican Party. The mainstream media will make excuses for Democrats until they are blue in the face, but Republicans don’t have that same layer of protection. Democrats can get away with making statements like those from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who told Politico that Democratic votes to block the Republican legislation to fund the DHS isn’t actually filibustering because, “We’re not just stopping things to stop it. We feel that we’re actually being constructive.” Sound familiar? Isn’t that what Republicans were blasted for when they were in the minority? But here we are. Republicans need to tread carefully, make good decisions and pass something — or the 114th Congress could hurt the GOP in the run-up to 2016. 2/12/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/02/12/the-insiders-why-is-immigration-so-hard-for-republicans/
5. Julian Zelizer: ‘Get your government hands off my Obamacare’
It is possible to imagine that several decades from now, when a Democratic president sends a proposal to Congress that would require cuts in the Affordable Care Act, a right-wing activist will say: “Get your government hands off my Obamacare!”
That’s almost exactly what happened in 2009 and 2010 when conservatives fought President Obama’s health care proposal by warning that it would require cuts to Medicare.
In recent months, we’ve seen how ACA continues to become entrenched in our political system. A sizable number of Republican governors in red states are now allowing the expansion of Medicaid under ACA to take place. For a while this seemed unlikely. In 2012, the Supreme Court struck a blow to ACA by ruling that the expansion of Medicaid was optional. Many Republican governors vowed they would not allow Medicaid to grow.
Recently, the congressional Republicans voted for the 56th time to repeal Obamacare. Each vote looks more futile than the next, each making the GOP seem disconnected from political reality. As more voters, health care providers and government officials come to depend on the benefits from these programs, the weaker the opponents will be. “They’re baaaaaying at the moon, 56th time,” quipped House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Many of the nation’s biggest domestic programs, like ACA, start in a heated political atmosphere. But history shows these programs can become part of the status quo, with those receiving their benefits becoming a powerful force for their continuation. 2/09/15 Read more at http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/09/opinion/zelizer-obamacare-bet-succeeds/index.html
6. Nancy LeTourneau: McConnell Is Blowing It…Big Time
My take on Sen. Mitch McConnell has always been that he is not so interested in issues/policies as he is in the power game of politics. That approach was never on display more clearly than when he said that his number one goal was to ensure that Obama was a one-term president – in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Given that, I will credit McConnell with being a good strategist. No matter how bad his total obstructionist tactics were for the country, they were a fairly effective power play. That’s why it’s been so fascinating to watch him fail so miserably lately.
McConnell’s initial strategy was to paint President Obama as the new obstructionist by forcing him to veto legislation that would otherwise undo his agenda. But that is getting all gummed up by either the Democrats in the Senate standing strong or the lunatic caucus in his party making compromise impossible. The Majority Leader finds himself between a rock and a hard place and can’t seem to get much of anything to the President’s desk.
So the spectacle voters are witnessing right now is a Democratic President who is busy getting things done while Congress is gridlocked and McConnell whines that Democrats in the Senate won’t let him get anything done.
In other words, you’re blowing it McConnell…big time! 2/14/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2015_02/mcconnell_is_blowing_itbig_tim054177.php
7. Danny Vinik: Republicans Are So Desperate, They’re Blaming Obama for Income Inequality
The Republican Party’s newfound attack on Obama over rising income inequality is especially strange because it ignores his greatest legislative achievement, which has improved the lives of millions of poor Americans. Yes, I mean Obamacare, the benefits of which accrue almost entirely to the poor.
Those benefits don’t show up in income inequality statistics, so Republicans can still point to falling real wages as evidence that Obama’s agenda has hurt the poor. But once you think that argument through, it crumbles quite quickly.
That holds true for most Republican arguments about Obama’s economic agenda right now. Stephen Moore, the chief economist for the Heritage Foundation, on Sunday ran through a host of statistics that are supposedly evidence of Obama’s failed policies: that the recovery has been slow compared to past recoveries; that inflation is actually rising; that inequality has worsened; that the rate of business creation has dropped; that Americans no longer think their kids will have better lives than them; that the national debt has grown by trillions of dollars; that young Americans have dropped out of the labor force; that divorce rates have risen; and that entitlement spending is increasing.
That’s quite a list! And just about all of it is wrong.
Expect to hear many of these arguments over the next few years. But they are all easily disproven. Americans are finally beginning to look at Obama’s economic agenda as a success. Boehner’s argument and Moore’s article show how little ammunition the right has to combat the Democrats’ message. 1/26/15 Read more at http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120855/republicans-blame-obama-income-inequality-ignoring-recession
8. Michael Tomasky: W’s Wars: Is Jeb His Brother’s Keeper?
The ex-president’s brother thinks he shouldn’t have to address all the bloodshed his brother caused. Sorry, Jeb: That’s insane.
I wouldn’t want to talk about the past either, if I were John Ellis Bush. I trust you caught that little moment last Friday, when he said, in response to questions about his “major foreign policy speech” coming this Wednesday, that running for president is not about “re-litigating anything in the past.”
Right. As Daniel Larison pointed out, no one running for president should be allowed to get anywhere near the Oval Office without giving voters a very full understanding of their assessment of American foreign policy in these last tumultuous and sanguinary 15 years. But for someone named Bush, that goes triple. It would be like Bernie Madoff’s brother trying to get a seat on the stock exchange while insisting that the past was irrelevant.
All right, Madoff is a bit of a stretch, I guess. But only a bit. We—the United States of America, under George W. Bush and his lieutenants—unleashed oceans of mayhem on the world, leading to many tens of thousands of deaths; leading to the rise of ISIS, which grew directly out of the failure of our favored government in Baghdad to deal reasonably with the Sunni population; and leading, finally, to some of the most shameful moments in modern American history (torture, black sites, and the rest). Gee, now that I put it that way, I think I actually insulted Madoff, who only stole money. The George W. Bush government did that too, in essence, with its $2 trillion, off-the-books war, on a scale Madoff could never have dreamed. 2.16.15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/16/where-does-jeb-stand-on-w-s-wars.html
9. Alex Isenstadt: The war on Jeb Bush
The war on Jeb Bush is on.
Rand Paul is attacking him as a hypocrite on marijuana who’s indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton. Ted Cruz is questioning whether Bush’s stands on education and immigration will fly with primary voters. Conservative outside groups are going after him, with one airing a TV ad declaring, “We do not want dynasties in our White House.”
For most of the past year, the Republican 2016 nomination fight had been seen as a free-for-all among a half-dozen or so viable candidates with no clear favorite. But in a matter of weeks it’s morphed into a collection of would-be Bush rivals and detractors ganging up on the early front-runner in hopes of blunting his momentum.
There are huge question marks surrounding Bush, from his controversial surname to positions on issues that may be deal-stoppers for conservative early-state voters. Yet big donors are lining up behind him, and top political staffers are signing up for campaign jobs. He’s become the man to beat practically out of the starting block — an enviable position but one that’s put a bull’s-eye on his back. 2/12/15 Read more at Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/the-war-on-jeb-bush-115159.html
10. Hanna Rosin: Among the Hillary Haters
Republicans don’t need a deep sense of history to see that Clinton disdain is like an infectious disease: if it rages out of control, it can easily kill its host. Stories about lesbian encounters in a White House shower or crack pipes meant as ornaments for a White House Christmas tree (both from the former FBI agent Gary Aldrich’s 1996 book, Unlimited Access) may sell, but they won’t win an election. In addition to obscuring justified accusations of wrongdoing, such tawdry tales are likely to elicit sympathy for Hillary Clinton, especially in an age when trashing a prominent woman typically carries some cultural penalty. Also, the re-airing of any of the wilder Clinton conspiracy theories is likely to harm the messenger more than the target. Take Representative Dan Burton of Indiana: though he served 30 years in Congress, he will forever be known as “Watermelon Dan” for shooting a melon with a revolver in his backyard, as part of his attempt to prove that the Clintons’ friend Vince Foster did not commit suicide but was instead murdered because he could implicate them in Whitewater.
Republicans particularly dread loose cannons at this political moment. In the 2012 elections, various off-the-cuff candidate musings (for instance, speculation about “legitimate rape” by Representative Todd Akin of Missouri) made the entire party look backwards and loony, and it paid a price in lost congressional seats. In 2014, the GOP was determined not to make the same mistakes—and for the most part, it didn’t. The result was that Republicans gained control of both the House and the Senate, and now enjoy a more favorable national impression than they have in years. Wanting to hold on to that honeymoon mood, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had one message for Republicans in the new Congress, summarized by The Washington Post in January: don’t be “scary.” Translated for 2016, the warning to his party is clear: keep the Clinton crazies muzzled. MARCH 2015 http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/among-the-hillary-haters/384976/
11. Eugene Robinson: Boehner’s Classroom Run Amok
The House of Representatives seems to be trying mightily to make itself irrelevant, with Speaker John Boehner leading the effort. I can’t help but think of the old proverb: “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.”
The caravan, in this case, consists of President Obama, the Senate and the American people. It’s still early, but one has to wonder whether anything but yipping and yapping will emerge from the House before the next election. Prospects, thus far, are not promising.
Under Boehner’s leadership, the House insists on holding the Department of Homeland Security hostage in an attempt to force Obama to undo his executive actions on immigration. Funding for the agency expires at the end of the month, and the House refuses to take up a simple appropriations bill without attaching unrelated immigration measures that have no chance of getting past the Senate or the president.
The timing of this attempted power play is less than exquisite. Each day seems to bring new reminders of the potential threat posed by terrorism. A group allied with the Islamic State parades 21 Coptic Christians onto a beach in Libya and savagely beheads them. A lone-wolf gunman stages a deadly attack in Copenhagen, perhaps modeled on the Charlie Hebdo killing spree in Paris.
So is this the moment to play political games with the nation’s safety from terrorist attacks? “Certainly,” said Boehner, when asked Sunday whether he was prepared to see Homeland Security run out of funding. 2/17/15 http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/02/17/boehners_classroom_run_amok_125626.html
12. Washington Post Editorial: Republicans are playing hot potato with Homeland Security funding
IN THE impasse over funding that threatens to shutter the Department of Homeland Security at the end of this month, House Speaker John A. Boehner has labored mightily to wash his hands of responsibility.
“The House has done its job,” Mr. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, imperiously.
By Washington’s cynical standards, Mr. Boehner may have a point. The Republican-controlled House indeed did do a job — a job on the American people. It passed a funding bill for DHS — with poison-pill riders attached to defund President Obama’s immigration policy — that it fully knew had no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law.
Now, rather than passing a no-gimmicks bill to keep funding flowing, Mr. Boehner and his querulous caucus are insisting that the onus is somehow on the Senate. As Mr. Boehner huffs and puffs, even many Senate Republicans are rolling their eyes, publicly warning Republicans in the House to get serious lest they suffer the political fallout when DHS closes its doors. Thousands of employees would be sent home, with thousands more expected to keep working without pay.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says it is “obviously” up to the House to pass a realistic bill that can clear the upper chamber. More high-mindedly, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) pointed out that the House could have used its time more constructively by actually passing an immigration bill to deal meaningfully with the underlying issue of 11 million undocumented immigrants.
So far, House Republicans prefer to fulminate, grandstand and vent their fury — which will be nothing compared with the fury directed at them if a critical department of government is shuttered. 2/16/15 http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-gop-plays-hot-potato-with-dhs-funding/2015/02/16/1a94aed8-b3d0-11e4-886b-c22184f27c35_story.html
13. President Barack Obama: Our fight against violent extremism
With al Qaeda and ISIL peddling the lie that the United States is at war with Islam — all of us have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define us as Americans. This week, we’ll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day. It’s a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.
That pluralism has at times been threatened by hateful ideologies and individuals from various religions. We’ve seen tragic killings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and at a Jewish community center in Kansas last year.
We do not yet know why three young people, who were Muslim Americans, were brutally killed in Chapel Hill, N.C. But we know that many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid. Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must continue to stand united with a community in mourning and insist that no one should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.
Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds. With this week’s summit, we’ll show once more that — unlike terrorists who only offer misery and death — it is our free societies and diverse communities that offer the true path to opportunity, justice and dignity. 2/18/15 Read more at http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-obama-terrorism-conference-20150218-story.html
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