Nel's New Day

February 18, 2016

GOP Hypocrisy Expands with Scalia’s Death

Last weekend’s events—the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the GOP presidential candidate in South Carolina less than two weeks before that state’s primary—occupied the media. The Saturday night debate showed the shift in presidential debates: in the past, they focused on the people on the stage, but the crowd attending the debate is now part of the performance. Ugly heckling and booing caused Political Wire’s Taegan Goddard to comment that the show seemed to be “taking place in a Roman coliseum,” and Republican David Frum bewailed that the audience  was “joining in the bloodbath.”

Prominent conservative pundit Rich Lowry called the debate a “train wreck,” and Frum asked if the GOP looks “like a party ready to govern anything.” GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who taught the conservative side how to speak in loaded language that hid their efforts to destroy democracy in the nation, said:

“Seriously, this is insane. The GOP is destroying itself tonight, and they have no one to blame but themselves.”

Trump has set the tone for debates. Kasich tried to stop the demolition derby and Ben Carson commented on how few questions he got, but the other four tried to out-insult the others.

While the candidates battled about other issues, they declared consensus in their firm belief that President Obama lacked the right to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia, who died February 13, 2016, the same day as the debate. An hour after the announcement of Scalia’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the president, with 11 months left in his second term, should leave the nomination to the next president and promised that the Senate would not acknowledge the nominee if the president were so foolish as to making an appointment.

Of the 54 Senate Republicans, 33 opposed any appointment this year. They demand that any nominee continue Scalia’s “legacy”—one of the most conservative on the Supreme Court. Eleven senators indicated a possible willingness to consider a nominee, and another ten are silent on the issue. Seven of the 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first stop for any judicial nomination, concurred with McConnell by announcing they would not consider any appointment from President Obama.

Only a decade ago, however, McConnell said:

“Any President’s judicial nominees should receive careful consideration.  But after that debate, they deserve a simple up-or-down vote. . . . It’s time to move away from advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent.  The stakes are high . . . . The Constitution of the United States is at stake.  Article II, Section 2 clearly provides that the President, and the President alone, nominates judges.”

He had held this position for the previous 35 years. In 1970, McConnell wrote:

“Even though the Senate has at various times made purely political decisions in its consideration of Supreme Court nominees, certainly it could not be successfully argued that this is an acceptable practice.

“The proper role of the Senate is to advise and consent to the particular nomination, and thus, as the Constitution puts it…This taken within the context of modern times should mean an examination only into the qualifications of the President’s nominee.”

The qualifications, according to McConnell, are competence, achievement/distinction, temperament, ethical behavior, and no criminal record. Nothing about political ideology. McConnell voted for a Supreme Court justice late in a president’s term, supporting Justice Anthony Kennedy, nominated only 13 months before the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term. Over a century has lapsed since the president failed to nominate or the Senate failed to confirm a nominee in a presidential year because of the impending election.

In the past, McConnell has stated other rational—and accurate–positions that disappeared after Barack Obama was elected president:

“The President is presumably elected by the people to carry out a program and altering the ideological directions of the Supreme Court would seem to be a perfectly legitimate part of a Presidential platform. To that end, the Constitution gives to him the power to nominate.

“Even though the Senate has at various times made purely political decisions in its consideration of Supreme Court nominees, certainly it could not be successfully argued that this is an acceptable practice.

“The true measure of a statesman may well be the ability to rise above partisan political considerations to objectively pass upon another aspiring human being.”

Reagan supported replacement of justices in the last year of a presidential term:

“The Federal judiciary is too important to be made a political football. I would hope, and the American people should expect, not only for Judge Kennedy’s confirmation but for the Senate to get to work and act on 27 other judicial nominations that have been left in limbo for quite awhile now.”

In July 2008, during the last year of George W. Bush’s second term, Republicans convened a hearing entitled “Protecting American Justice: Ensuring Confirmation of Qualified Judicial Nominees” in reaction to the “Thurmond Rule,” a demand from racist senator, Strom Thurmond, that a president be limited by time to nominate a justice. Almost half a century ago, Thurmond tried to make this mandate in retribution to President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act by blocking the president’s nomination of Justice Abe Fortas as Chief Justice in 1968. No rule was passed, and Thurmond said gave the last six months as the timeline for no nominations. Comments from participants in the 2008 hearing:

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA):

“[The idea that July 2008 would trigger the] Thurmond Rule ­­– that’s just plain bunk.  The reality is that the Senate has never stopped confirming judicial nominees during the last few months of a president’s term.”

Eight years later, Grassley said:

“The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year… it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said in 2008:

“There’s no excuse for not considering and voting upon a well­ qualified judicial nominee in the United States of America today…  [J]ust because it’s a presidential election year is no excuse for us to take a vacation.  And we’re here.  We’re ready to go to work.”

Now, Alexander wants to allow the next president to fill this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), in 2008, wanted the two parties to work together “to confirm qualified men and women to the federal bench” in an election year–“to establish that regardless of the next president’s party, the nominees will be treated fairly and on the basis of their qualifications, and not on the basis of ancient political squabbles.”

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) echoed these ideas:

“I think it’s clear that there is no Thurmond Rule.  And I think the facts demonstrate that.”

GOP Sen. John McCain said in 2005 that if Democrats should “win the next presidential election,” they should choose Supreme Court nominees because “that’s the way the system works.” McCain has now reversed this opinion.

In the Washington Post, Paul Waldman wrote about the change in the GOP:

“[Republicans] haven’t just grown more ideologically conservative in recent years, they’ve also grown more procedurally radical. Again and again, they’ve decided that the system of formal and informal norms that make the government work can be discarded if it becomes inconvenient.”

Republicans started out with the argument that there is no history of a president nominating a Supreme Court justice in his last year. Once that excuse was totally debunked, they decided it would be cruel to the nominee because Senate will destroy that person’s reputation. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said:

“I think that hearing would end up very politicized. And I don’t think it would be fair to the nominee.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) made a similar argument:

“[I]t might be just as well not to have a hearing that would, sort of, might mislead the American people into thinking that this is just about the qualifications of the candidate, because it’s bigger than that.”

One reason for the shift in attitude may be a fear of the Senate reverting to a Democratic majority. Of the 36 senatorial positions up for grabs in the 2016 election, 24 are Republican. Of those 24, six are in for difficulty in being re-elected.

Another concern may be popular opinion, as seen in the results of the conservative Rasmussen poll indicating that 51 percent of likely voters believe that Obama should nominate Scalia’s successor, and 53 percent believe the Senate should not “reject or refuse to consider” the nomination. Only 35 percent favor McConnell’s blocking the president’s constitutional duty to appoint Scalia’s replacement.

Yet the cracks appearing in McConnell’s control of his Republicans seem to be disappearing,  and GOP senators are turning toward rejecting any nominee. For example, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) earlier stated that the Senate should hold hearings. Her shift in opinion was revealed in tweets urging President Obama to “follow a tradition embraced by both parties” by yielding to the next president:

“If [the president of the United States] ignores precedent, I believe extraordinary circumstances give the Senate every right to deny the nominee an up or down vote.”

The biggest irony about the argument surrounding an appointment to replace Scalia this year comes from the justice’s famous “originalist” view of the Constitution, his belief that laws and judicial rulings in the 21st century should following the text of the Constitution exactly as the Founding Fathers intended. Article II Section 2 of the Constitution states that the president is responsible for nominating members of the high court. Nowhere does the Constitution state “except when a Democratic president has almost a year to serve.”

As Frank Rich wrote:

“By refusing to act on the Scalia vacancy, the [GOP] party will once again brand itself as the party of obstructionism, government dysfunction, and animosity toward the growing majority of Americans who do not fit its predominantly white male demographic.”

January 30, 2016

GOP Presidential Debate Overwhelmed by Lies

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM

When I didn’t watch the most recent GOP presidential candidate debates, I thought I was safe. I didn’t even watch Chris Matthews’ take on the event, opting instead for a rerun of Vera on my local OPB station. But GOP debates are like Doritos: they’re irresistible if they are just there on the counter—just like all the articles about the debate.

People got excited about Donald Trump’s absence from the debate. To quote Robert Borosage:

“Without the bawdy showman, the entire cast seemed smaller, the divisive questions of the Fox moderators more petulant, and the debate endless.”

Borosage went on to talk about what else was missing from the debate—the economy. No questions about how to help working people, especially with the threat of a potential global slowdown in the Gilded Age inequality. Climate change was present only in “a gotcha question to Marco Rubio about cap-and-trade.” Instead it was all standard Fox stuff: inflation of ISIS and immigrants, rants about President Obama and Hillary Clinton, and the every-present question of “electability.”

Candidates’ predictable answers were building walls, fighting Planned Parenthood, supporting more guns, throwing more money at the military, and, naturally, repealing “Obamacare.” Rand Paul threw out some red meat about giving blank checks to the intelligence agencies that trample American rights and the questionable approach of fighting ISIS while trying to overthrow the group’s biggest enemy, Syrian president Bashar Assad. Nobody took his bait.

The take from the Boston Globe:

Trump won because he avoided the fray.

Ted Cruz failed when his attempt to his Trump boomeranged. Flip-flopper Marco Rubio attacked him by saying, “The truth is, Ted, throughout this campaign, you’ve been willing to say or do anything in order to get votes.” Cruz’s awkward explanations left him looking like a loser.

Rand Paul and Jeb Bush showed much better than the past without Trump’s insults, but their performance won’t help their single-digit ratings.

Ben Carson was notable for his soporific style and his customary absurd statements. Vladimir Putin “is a one-horse country: oil and energy.” His quoting of the preamble to the Constitution got part of it wrong.

Chris Christie typically brags about his decision-making and accountability, but his defense about Bridgegate is that he fired people for politically-motivated crimes because he didn’t know anything about what they were doing. Not accountable, Christie. He closed with complaining about not being able to find his wife for several hours after the World Trade towers went down on 9/11.

Rubio went farther with fear-mongering than Cruz, calling ISIS “the most dangerous jihadist group in the history of mankind” and saying it wants “to trigger an apocalyptic Armageddon showdown.” “Apocalyptic” is his new favorite word. Although ISIS has killed fewer people in the United States that those who die from falling televisions, he described its threat as “unprecedented.” He wants to violate the Constitution by sending terrorists arrested in the U.S. to Gitmo and commit war crimes by “relaxing” the rules of engagement in fighting ISIS. Four times, he said, “When I am president.”

Since the debate, the media is having a field day with Hillary Clinton’s emails, stressing her “lies.” Much of the media doesn’t stress the fact that Ashton Carter, Secretary of the Defense, relied on a personal email account to conduct a portion of his government business during his first months at the Pentagon. Or that the GOP lies so much that fact-checkers are becoming more indifferent. Among the lies on the debate state, these five stood out.

False: The Affordable Care Act has forced millions into joblessness and part-time work. True: Since the ACA’s employer mandate went into effect at the beginning of last year, the U.S. economy added over 2.4 million jobs.

False: “Last year there were 81,000 pages of government regulations.” True: The Federal Register has over 82,000 pages of regulations but a massive number of these pages don’t contain regulations or rules.

False: Neighbors of the San Bernardino attackers knew of their plans in advance. True: There are no credible reports to support this attempt from conservatives to justify their racial profiling and Islamophobia. After the attack, neighbors and friends said that the couple “didn’t attract attention or suspicion.”

False: Rubio never supported blanket amnesty. True: Rubio keeps saying this to save his skin, but his record shows that he backed a limited path to citizenship in 2013.

False: Trump never asked for Megyn Kelly to be removed. True: Trump did claim that he didn’t once ask that Kelly be removed, but he did ask for this many times.

When candidates weren’t outright lying, they were “stretching” the truth.

Clinton didn’t say she would put Barack Obama on the Supreme Court; she said that she’d take it “under advisement.”

President Obama said that the January 7 shooting of a Philadelphia police officer may have been connected with terrorism but that he would let the city police department make that decision.

President Obama also didn’t kill the 2007 comprehensive immigration bill supported by George W. Bush when the president was a senator. The only influential part he played was to argue that workers should remain on the payroll during appeals to not being on a database of those legally authorized to work.

When John Kasich defended his Medicaid expansion with reducing prison recidivism in Ohio, he used numbers of inmates released well before he permitted the expansion. He also bragged about the 400,000 jobs gained in Ohio during his term, but that rate is well below the national average.

Cruz claimed an amendment he offered to the 2013 immigration bill “didn’t say a word about legalization,” but the effect of the amendment would have been to allow legalization of those in the country illegally.

“The smallest Navy in 100 year”? According to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, there are other ways to measure seapower than just the sheer number of ships. He said, “We also have fewer telegraph machines than we did in World War I and we seem to be doing fine without that…. Look at the capability. Look at the missions that we do.”

Fact-checkers may need to change to a different process. For a shorter list, they could determine which statements in each GOP are true.

With Trump absent from the Fox debate, moderator Megyn Kelly picked Ted Cruz as the scapegoat. To destroy his credibility, she showed four video clips of his speeches in which he was working toward legal status for undocumented immigrants, something that Cruz denies ever having supported. Believing themselves to have knocked off the top GOP competitor, the conservative network is going for the next one. The question is which presidential candidate that the network will promote for top dog.

My Doritos chip bag is now empty. I’ll have to get another one to survive the first primary of 2016. On Monday, February 1, 2016, 120,000 voters in Iowa will determine their preference for president within each party in a non-binding caucus. That’s 0.00082017073 percent of the registered voters in the United States supposedly giving direction to the rest of the country, but the preoccupation with this primary has created a lot of jobs.

August 7, 2015

And the GOP Debate Winner Is ….

fox-rebublican-presidential-debate-lineup-2015The common question after any debate is “who won,” and last night’s first GOP presidential candidate debate was no exception. The gang of 10 followed the largely ignored group of seven earlier in the day to give their typical conservative responses to producing rapid economic growth by lowering taxes for the rich, rolling back regulation, shrinking government, repealing healthcare and Dodd-Frank, weakening Social Security, further reducing women’s reproductive rights, building a fence between Mexico and the U.S., and increasing the military budget to cause war around the world from Ukraine to Iran. The debates had one clear winner, however—Fox network.

August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (M. Scott Mahaskey/Politico)

August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (M. Scott Mahaskey/Politico)

Moderators Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace came out for the later debate like a cheerleading team at a horse race as Kelly emitted giddy giggles and made inappropriate comments from the first time that she opened her mouth. The first question—who is willing to run as a third-party candidate if he doesn’t win the candidacy—established Fox’s bona fides as the GOP agenda-setter when Baier badgered Trump after he wouldn’t sign the pledge not to run.

Kelly followed that argument by assailing Trump on his sexist comments, making attacks from other candidates unnecessary. Trump struck back against Kelly, “What I say is what I say. And honestly, Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.” Fox will surely use that clip as a video loop as long as Trump is in the running. Kelly will get the credit if she destroys Donald Trump’s popularity, but she’s following the strategy of Roger Ailes, Fox president. Fox gave the power to Trump, but can it take away that power? The next polls will be very telling.

With other candidates, Kelly softened her approach. She asked Scott Walker, “Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion” and failed follow through after Walker explained that this could never happen. In essence, he said, “Yes.” Another Walker question was, “Why did you change your mind on immigrants and what else have you changed your mind on?” Again no request for explanation after Walker answered, “I listen to people.” Confronted by his failures in Wisconsin, Walker said, “They elected me for the third time … because they wanted someone to aim high, not aim low.” He also said that the United States should not do business with Iran because of the hostage situation 35 years ago, one which was orchestrated by the GOP trying to get Ronald Reagan elected Reagan who then tried to illegally sell weapons to Iran in order to help finance an illegal war in Central America.

Fox went for entertainment in the debate with its question-answer beauty-queen format, and the highpoint may have been the shouting match between Chris Christie and Rand Paul that matched the two bullies as if they were facing off on a school playground. Paul accused Christie of supporting spying because the president gave him a hug, and Christie accused Paul of “sitting in a subcommittee, just blowing hot air about this.”

Earlier in the day, George Pataki avoided a question about whether he would spy on mosques after moderator Martha MacCallum warned him about Islamic extremists in the United States. Then she warned him that Christian GOP voters worry about government interference in their religion. Later Lindsey Graham endorsed surveillance, but no one mentioned that the United States is already doing this.

In the next debate, Christie puffed himself up about his importance surrounding 9/11. He claimed ownership for 9/11 because he “was appointed U.S. Attorney by President Bush on September 10th, 2001.” This is another of Christie’s lies that even MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell swallowed. In fact, the White House contacted Christie on 9/10/1 to tell him that they had started the six-week vetting process preceding his nomination. Christie was nominated on December 7, 2001 (almost three months after 9/11) and sworn into office until January 17, 2002.

Nick Baumann pointed out ways that Fox smacked down candidates if they dared stray from the GOP ideology:

To Lindsey Graham: How can conservatives trust him because of his record on working with Democrats on climate change?

To Bobby Jindal and George Pataki: How did they think Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, “got it wrong” by accepting Medicaid expansion?

To pro-choice George Pataki:  Have the Planned Parenthood videos “changed your heart when it comes to abortion?”

To Sen. Rand Paul: Because he “recently blamed the rise of ISIS on Republican hawks,” the question was “Why are you so quick to blame your own party?” (It’s to be noted that no one asked Ted Cruz the same question that evening as he blamed half the problems on the Republicans.”

To John Kasich (about his claim that God was the reason for his Medicaid expansion): “Why should Republican voters, who generally want to shrink government, believe that you won’t use your Saint Peter rationale to expand every government program?”

The Nation provided a great overview of the debate.

“The first official Republican debate was, at least, good television, chock full of shouting matches, bald-faced lies, and ad hominem attacks. Spanning two hours, it addressed everything from national security to reproductive rights and economics (with a fifteen-second token question on race in America).”

Some of my favorite highlights from The Nation’s roundup:

Mike Huckabee on transgender rights in the military: “The military is not a social experiment. The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.”

Ben Carson on his foreign policy blunders: “The thing that is probably most important is having a brain.”

Ben Carson on tax reform:  “The one that I’ve advocated is based on tithing because I think God’s a pretty fair guy.”

Jeb Bush on how he could achieve a four-percent economic growth rate: “I think we need to lift our spirits and have high lofty expectations.”

The language throughout the debate was disrespectful. Hillary Clinton was continually called “Hillary,” and moderator Chris Wallace, who should have known better, referred to the undocumented man who killed a woman in San Francisco as “an illegal.” The term was used six other times in the debate.

Perhaps the most outrageous response—and that’s hard to determine!—came from Bobby Jindal who promised to send the IRS after Planned Parenthood on the day that he becomes president. Jindal has promised a blatantly illegal act. Born in 1971, Jindal isn’t old enough to remember that Richard Nixon could have been impeached for trying to use the IRS as a political weapon if he hadn’t resigned first. The GOP spent a lot of capital accusing the president of using the IRS to punish far-right Tea Party groups, but nobody followed up on Jindal’s bid for attention in a crowded field.

Fox reinforced the GOP vision of a theocracy in its last question: “I want to know if any of [the candidates] have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.” The flurry of Christian expressions was to be expected. What was missing?

What has there been historic job growth during the past few years after the Affordable Care Act was described as a “job killer”?

Do you support paid maternity leave like all except two other countries in the world?

Do you support the policy of banning guns from the arena for the debate?

What lessons has the Iraq War given the United States? Does this impact your view of the Iranian deal?

Ronald Reagan granted legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, grew the federal government, banned assault rifles, and raised the gas tax for the infrastructure and the ceiling on the Social Security tax? Is your approach different from his and, if so, how?

In gaining support from the Koch brothers, who say they are opposed to corporate welfare, would you eliminate all government subsidies and tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry?

Do you agree with the Citizens United decision, which conferred “personhood rights” on corporations, allowing them to give unlimited political donations?

Other missing topics: voting rights, climate change, and income inequality. In short, nothing new—nothing changed.

As Helen wrote to Margaret in her blog, “On a stage with no vaginas, there were a lot of opinions about vaginas.” As for the winner of last night’s GOP debate, some people say, “Hillary Clinton.”

August 3, 2015

Let the Games Begin: First GOP Debate in New Hampshire


With the presidential election 15 months from now, 14 GOP candidates appeared in New Hampshire tonight for the first debate, this one televised on C-SPAN. Fox was supposed to have the first one on Thursday, but New Hampshire objected to the elimination of seven candidates based on an Fox’s average of recent, unnamed polls. At this time, no one knows which candidates will make the break for Fox, but the “also rans” can appear before the “official” debate.

14 candidates

New Hampshire was far more civilized than the Fox’s extravaganza on Thursday because Donald Trump won’t be there. The other two no-shows are Mike Huckabee and late-entry Jim Gilmore. The New Hampshire one-on-one format also prevented interaction among candidates with the appearance of only one person on stage at a time.

Fox’s debate criteria were originally those who place “in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls,” with a cut-off time of 5 p.m. Tuesday. Upset about the possibility of Trump attending, Fox added that the participants had to also release their financial statements. Trump did, and Fox is having trouble finding other ways to disqualify the candidate who has been running at the top of the heap since he announced.

The Fox debate method almost assuredly omits Carly Fiorina, the only woman candidate. By now, one person of color—Ben Carson—has probably managed to get into the top tier, but Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, won’t be there. Ohio governor, John Kasich, may be able to appear, nice because the debate is in his home state, but he’s vying with former Texas governor Rick Perry and New Jersey governor, Chris Christie for slots 9 and 10. Absent from the primary Fox debate will most likely be a leading candidate from last time, Rick Santorum as well as former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). In essence, Fox is declaring the top candidates and winnowing out the rest of them without giving them a chance to rise in the polls.

What the candidates say doesn’t mean much because of their incessant lying. With only nine declared candidates, Politifact found that half of the checked statements were Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire. The Democratic contenders got only a rating of 30 percent lies. Leading the GOP field was Ben Carson at 100 percent lies. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) came next with 70 percent lies, followed by Carly Fiorina at 67 percent, Rick Santorum at 53 percent, and Mike Huckabee at 52 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) trailed behind at only 40 percent lying followed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) at 36 percent lies. George Pataki’s only checked statement was also false—maybe another 100 percent.

Here’s a sample of what eleven of the participants have been up to lately. The other six haven’t managed anything memorable—maybe because they’re acting a bit more like adults.

New Jersey governor, Chris Christie has said that treating each others with respect “can bring people together.” That was followed by saying that the national teachers union “deserves a punch in the face.” Washington Post has put together a video demonstrating the many moods of Chris Christie—defensive, condescending and unapologetic, sarcastic, indignant, tough guy, and funny man—in short, narcissistic who wants only to be a celebrity.

Former Alabama governor Mike Huckabee followed his comment that President Obama is sending people into the oven (a Holocaust reference) with suggesting that he would dispatch U.S. troops to block women from having their legal reproductive rights. (He didn’t appear in New Hampshire tonight.)

Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, has repeated his statement that he doesn’t know if President Obama is a Christian. He also hasn’t figured out whether being LGBT is a choice although he topped that off by saying it’s not his concern after extensive work to discriminate against them. Questions are hard for Walker: he won’t answer whether he accepts modern biology or whether the president loves the United States.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has attacked a few other GOP candidates by accusing them of not reporting to work in Congress all the time. His new clip states, “If Congress skips votes or hearings, Jeb will dock their pay.” He probably means “members of Congress,” but more than that, only Congress can adjust their compensation. It’s in the U.S. Constitution, Jeb.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), desperate to get attention back from Trump, has said he made a video of himself cooking bacon on a machine gun, but he couldn’t even tell the truth about the gun. It was actually an AR -15. A Smith and Wesson representative pointed out that the bacon stunt violates the gun’s warranty. The same conservative media outlet, IJ Review, filmed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) destroying a cell phone in a number of ways including the use of a blender. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) attacked the tax code with a chain saw and a wood chipper. These are people who consider themselves presidential timbre.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during the Atlantic Council’s series “America’s Role in the World” at the Atlantic Council's offices in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Graham, in a mild-mannered Southern way, may be the scariest candidate. As president, he would start wars with at least four nations, including Iran, North Korea, Iraq, and Syria, while sending soldiers back to Afghanistan. He would also “fire any military leader who disagreed with me.” At the same time, Graham wants veterans to pay more for their health care.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) loved NASA’s successful visit to the dwarf planet Pluto in July and hoped that young people will “feel that American science, ingenuity and daring are alive and well.” He continued by talk about its importance but has voted to cut NASA funding while refuting the findings of the agency’s scientists. So much for “American innovation.”

Dr. Ben Carson, who wants more political questions than medical, failed his exam on the U.S. Constitution in a Meet the Press interview.  Chuck Todd asked Carson, “Does the Bible have authority over the US Constitution?” When Carson said that this depends on the specifics, Todd, as usual, had no follow-up. Once again, facts are not part of “journalist” Todd’s job.

Rick Santorum thinks that the U.S. isn’t “winning” the war against ISIS because the country is not killing enough civilians in the Middle East. He complained about the lack of ordnance dropped on the insurgents in Ramadi, capital of Anbar Province, despite the way that the Iraqi army has surrounded the city. The U.S. killed over one-half million Iraqis in George W. Bush’s war, but Santorum wants to kill more.

Rick Perry has benefited from voice lessons, a good speech writer, and serious-looking glasses, but he still has a problem with ethics. Perry is a board member for an energy company that he protected while in office, and his boss, Kelcy Warren, is the biggest contributor to the super PACs funding Perry’s advertising. The company’s reward would be the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline if Perry became president.

Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, has stopped all state Medicaid for two state Planned Parenthood affiliates, claiming that he “investigated” Planned Parenthood after the fraudulent videos released to the public. Jindal is also driving business out of the state because of his discriminatory “religious freedom” stance and took $2,500 from every taxpayer in the state to give to corporations.

That’s tonight’s line-up. Tomorrow evening Fox may reveal which ones of these candidates appear in the “real” debate and which ones will be at the “kids’ table.”



In a bit of black humor, Walker has again been “punked.” When he was running for governor, a journalist convinced him that he was talking to a Koch brother. In this photo, he probably didn’t know that he was proudly posing behind a “check” showing that the Koch brothers were buying him. American “exceptionalism” strikes again.


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