Tag Archives: Tyranny

Mann and Ornstein: How the Republicans Broke Congress

Political scientists Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, the high priests of “centrism” in Washington, D.C., warned back in 2012, Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

This op-ed was a preview of the books that followed, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism” (2012) and updated in 2016, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks Was: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.

Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein are back with a new op-ed at the New York Times, How the Republicans Broke Congress:

In the past three days, Republican leaders in the Senate scrambled to corral votes for a tax bill that the Joint Committee on Taxation said would add $1 trillion to the deficit — without holding any meaningful committee hearings. Worse, Republican leaders have been blunt about their motivation: to deliver on their promises to wealthy donors, and down the road, to use the leverage of huge deficits to cut and privatize Medicare and Social Security.

Congress no longer works the way it’s supposed to. But we’ve said that before.

Continue reading

The conservative media entertainment complex spoils for a constitutional crisis

I have previously explained how the conservative media entertainment complex and the Trump administration are amplifying “active measures” (propaganda) practiced by the Russians. The conservative media entertainment complex is an ancillary to Russian ‘active measures’ propaganda.

There has been a coordinated effort between our Twitter-troll-in-chief and Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal and GOPropaganda network FAUX News (aka Trump TV) in recent weeks to fabricate a fantastical alternate universe reality in which “President Hillary Clinton” colluded with the Russians and she and James Comey and Robert Mueller all must be prosecuted — for something. This is best exemplified by Trump’s Minister of GOPropganda at Trump TV, Sean Hannity, and Trump’s close friend “judge”Jeanine Pirro. See, The Fox News-Murdoch effect: Mueller must resign! Or be fired!, and The GOP strategy on the Russia scandal: ‘No puppet. You’re the puppet.’

While most observers argue this is an attempt to distract, divert and to mislead the public from the Russia investigation (it is), Greg Sargent explains that it is much more nefarious than this. Trump and his allies are laying the groundwork for a Saturday Night Massacre:

Let’s be clear on what’s happening in our politics right now. President Trump and his media allies are currently creating a vast, multi-tentacled, largely-fictional alternate media reality that casts large swaths of our government as irredeemably corrupt — with the explicitly declared purpose of laying the rationale for Trump to pardon his close associates or shut down the Russia probe, should he deem either necessary.

We often hear that Trump and his allies are trying to “distract” from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s intensifying investigation. That’s true, but this characterization inadequately casts this in terms ordinarily applied to conventional politics. Instead, Trump’s trafficking in this stuff should be seen as another sign of his fundamental unfitness to serve as president. Similar efforts by his media allies [e.g., Stepehen Bannon at Breitbart] should be labeled as a deliberate effort to goad Trump into sliding into full-blown authoritarianism, and to provide the air cover for him if he does do so.

Continue reading

GOP civil war, or triumph of the will to a Trump authoritarian cult of personality?

Steve Benen noted the other day The unusual nature of the Republican Party’s ‘civil war’:

[T]he Republican Party is apparently experiencing one of those weird civil wars in which everyone agrees with one another.

* * *

It’s probably safe to say the three most vocal Trump critics among Senate Republicans are John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Bob Corker, each of whom have gone to surprising lengths recently to express their contempt for the president. But if we consider their voting record, McCain has voted with Trump 84% of the time this year. Corker has voted with the president’s position 86% of the time. With Flake, the number rises to 90%.

Tallies like these hint at a possible contradiction: if the Republican trio were really offended by Trump, they wouldn’t keep voting the way he wants them to.

And while there may be something to this, it’s worth appreciating what makes the GOP’s civil war so bizarre: the factions are divided by style, tone, and demeanor, but when it comes to public policy, they’re all roughly on the same page.

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post follows up today, The Trump authoritarian cult:

The Glorious Republican Civil War of 2017 isn’t really a battle over policy or ideology. It isn’t even quite the clash of grand agendas we constantly read about — the supposed showdown between populist economic nationalism on one side, and limited government conservatism, free trade and internationalism on the other.

Instead, the GOP civil war is really a battle over whether Republican lawmakers should — or should not — genuflect before President Trump. The battle is over whether they should — or should not — applaud his racism, his authoritarianism and his obvious pleasure in dispensing abuse and sowing racial division. It’s also over whether Republicans should submit to Trump’s ongoing insistence that his lack of major accomplishments is fully the fault of Republicans who failed his greatness.

The Post reports that allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have hit on a new strategy for countering Stephen K. Bannon’s insurgency. Bannon’s challengers are running on the idea that they constitute the true bearers of the Trumpist banner against a GOP establishment that has allegedly betrayed Trumpism. The strategy is to walk a careful line, avoiding attacking Trump while linking Bannon’s version of Trumpism “to white nationalism to discredit him and the candidates he will support.”

The notion that the GOP civil war is really about whether to genuflect to Trump’s racism and authoritarianism helps resolve some glaring disconnects in our politics that make little sense under any other interpretation.

Continue reading

Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

On Monday, the New York Times reported that Trump Grows Discontented With Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

Mr. Trump has grown sour on Mr. Sessions, now his attorney general, blaming him for various troubles that have plagued the White House.

The discontent was on display on Monday in a series of stark early-morning postings on Twitter in which the president faulted his own Justice Department for its defense of his travel ban on visitors from certain predominantly Muslim countries. Mr. Trump accused Mr. Sessions’s department of devising a “politically correct” version of the ban — as if the president had nothing to do with it.

In private, the president’s exasperation has been even sharper. He has intermittently fumed for months over Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people close to Mr. Trump who insisted on anonymity to describe internal conversations. In Mr. Trump’s view, they said, it was that recusal that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel who took over the investigation.

Let’s be clear, Department of Justice rules required Attorney General Sessions to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation. It is ordinary protocol and was to be expected. Trump is angry at Sessions because he abided by Justice department rules, rather than create a protracted legal dispute over recusal, and he removed himself from the ability to exert influence over the direction of the investigation, which indicates that Trump intended to exert undue influence over the Attorney General to affect the course of the Trump-Russia investigation (otherwise known as obstruction of justice).

Continue reading

CBO Report on Zombie ‘Trumpcare’ bill: increase of 23 million uninsured and premiums out of reach for those with pre-exisitng conditions

The Zombie Trumpcare bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) which narrowly passed the House this month, would increase the projected number of people without health insurance by 14 million next year, would reach 19 million by 2020,  and 23 million in 2026, according to a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report (.pdf) released on Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 3.21.45 PM

The CBO issued two reports on earlier versions of the House bill in March. Both said that the legislation would increase the number of uninsured by 14 million next year and by 24 million within a decade, compared with the current law.

The New York Times reports, G.O.P. Health Bill Would Leave 23 Million More Uninsured in a Decade, C.B.O. Says:

The AHCA would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over a decade, less than the $150 billion in savings projected in late March for an earlier version of the bill [Trumpcare 2.0]. And in states that seek waivers from rules mandating essential health coverage, the new law could make insurance economically out of reach for some sick consumers.

CBO projects premiums would increase by an average of about 20 percent in 2018 and 5 percent in 2019. “Starting in 2020, however, average premiums would depend in part on any waivers granted to states and on how those waivers were implemented and in part on what share of the funding available from the Patient and Stte Stability Fund was applied to premium rediction.”

“People living in states modifying the essential health benefits (EHBs) who used services or benefits no longer included in the EHBs woud experience substantial increases in out-of-pocket spending on health care or would choose to forgo the services.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 3.58.15 PM

Source: The three numbers you need to understand the CBO report on Republicans’ health-care bill.

Premiums would vary significantly according to health status and the types of benefits provided, and less healthy people would face extremely high premiums,” the budget office concluded.

Continue reading

Rev. William Barber Is reviving Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘Poor People’s Campaign’

The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Mondays movement that opposed North Carolina’s “most restrictive voting law in the nation,” recently scored a major victory against this TeaPublican tyranny. Strict North Carolina Voter ID Law Thwarted After Supreme Court Rejects Case:

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to revive a restrictive North Carolina voting law that a federal appeals court had struck down as an unconstitutional effort to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The court’s decision not to hear an appeal in the case effectively overturned one of the most far-reaching attempts by Republicans to counter what they contended, without evidence, was widespread voter fraud in North Carolina. The law rejected the forms of identification used disproportionately by blacks, including IDs issued to government employees, students and people receiving public assistance.

Fresh off this victory, Rev. Barber announced last week that he will step down as president of the North Carolina NAACP and lead a new national initiative that aims to end poverty and begin what Rev. Barber calls “a national moral revival.” The Nation reports, The Rev. William Barber Is Bringing MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign Back to Life:

This new Poor People’s Campaign will pick up where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. left off 50 years ago when he turned his focus to uniting poor people across lines of race and geography and pushing their priorities onto the federal agenda.

The campaign, which launches in partnership the Kairos Center at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, will bring together organizations with a longstanding commitment to confronting poverty and inequality—local and national groups such as Picture the Homeless in New York and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. Barber said a task force made up of poor people and economists, theologians, and other experts will in September release a report called “The Souls of Poor Folks” that will lay out the campaign’s agenda.

Continue reading