ChrisWeigant.com

Friday Talking Points [259] -- Pivoting To Other News

[ Posted Friday, May 24th, 2013 – 17:21 PDT ]

Some weeks, not much happens in political news, and other weeks it seems like almost too much happens. This was one of the latter types of week.

While last week was a week of scandals on the television news, this week most of them faded into the background a bit. Benghazi, of course, is going to be Republicans' backup "scandal" right through the 2016 election, since they're not even really targeting Barack Obama anymore, but rather Hillary Clinton. The IRS scandal was briefly in the news as one woman refused to answer Congress' questions and then was put on administrative leave. But the scandal still hasn't touched the White House in any meaningful way, so it appears Republicans are somewhat losing interest in it, other than as a dandy way to raise campaign cash from their base, of course. The AP and Fox News scandal actually did get more scandalous this week, but Republicans aren't really interested in pushing this scandal, leaving it up to the media to protect one of their own.

President Obama gave a major speech yesterday, the timing of which was assumably chosen to "pivot" off of all the scandals (and the non-scandals). He spoke on foreign policy, war, drones, and Guantanamo Bay. This was enough to enrage a few Republicans, which meant it certainly worked as a political distraction. It was also enough to enrage the co-founder of Code Pink, who made her displeasure known while Obama was trying to speak.

Of course, there was a killer tornado in Oklahoma this week, which was the main story all week long in the news. Brian Williams rolled up his shirt sleeves and... well, to tell you the truth, I can't even bring myself to finish the rest of that sentence. Wolf Blitzer tried hard to get a survivor of the tornado to "thank the Lord" on air, until she politely informed him that she was an atheist -- which was an amusing takedown of a "journalist" trying to shove his own interpretation of a story onto an actual victim.

The Senate actually accomplished a first step towards a comprehensive immigration bill, which didn't get the attention it really deserved. But we're at the start of a very long fight, so there will be time enough for the fur to fly later, I suppose. Gay spouses weren't included in the bill the committee approved, but they did weaken the rules on H-1B visas at the tech industry's bequest. Again, this is just the start of the horse trading on the bill, so who knows what it'll look like at the end of the process?

The Boy Scouts decided that gays will now be allowed into scouting, right up until they turn 18 years old. This solution annoyed pretty much everybody, so we'll see whether they revisit this half-a-loaf decision later.

What else? Anthony Weiner decided to run for New York City mayor, much to the delight of late night comics everywhere. He then immediately found himself in yet another photo scandal -- although a lot less titillating than his last one. On his website, he had a photo of a city skyline, but someone forgot to check what city, and it turned out to be Pittsburgh instead of The Big Apple. Whoops!

OK, that's enough recapping, let's move on to the awards, shall we?

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

I can't help but think that one of the biggest reasons the politics of gay rights has moved forward in public acceptance so impressively has been due to the millions of gay people who, in the past few decades, have decided to "come out" to the world as who they are. It's a lot easier to demonize and scapegoat a group of people if there is no human face to confront. As more and more Americans got to know someone who is gay, it has become harder and harder to deny them their humanity and their rights.

The reason I was thinking about this was news of two politicians who stood up for their own beliefs in different ways this week. Arizona state representative Juan Mendez led what could called an "atheist prayer," taking his turn at leading the pre-session prayer and instead making a powerful statement to his colleagues. Fair enough -- if he has to sit there and hear a prayer every day, then when it's his turn he should stand up for his own beliefs. Atheism is one of the last groups of people in America who still face criticism for their religious beliefs (or "areligious beliefs," perhaps), as evidenced by the fact that atheist boys still are excluded from the Boy Scouts, just as one example.

The second politician who stood up this week was Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who went public with an article about how his life has immeasurably improved due to medical marijuana. I haven't checked, but I believe he is the first politician ever to do so in such a public fashion.

Both of these men deserve at least an Honorable Mention this week, for putting a very human face on two groups of people that don't currently have many political spokesmen. Standing up in such a personal way will, hopefully, encourage more politicians of their stripe to follow in their footsteps.

But our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to Representative Mark Pocan from Wisconsin and Representative Keith Ellison from Minnesota, for introducing a constitutional amendment which would guarantee every American citizen the right to vote. Here is the proposed amendment, in its entirety:

SECTION 1: Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.

SECTION 2: Congress shall have the power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation.

This is an absolutely brilliant political move, for a number of reasons. First, it points out to the public that there is no actual right to vote written into the Constitution. Oh, sure, it's implied, but it is not actually spelled out anywhere. Secondly, it is a proactive way to fight back against all the shenanigans Republicans are trying to pull on the state level in order to suppress Democratic voter turnout. Many of these laws would be tossed in the garbage can if a voting rights amendment is passed.

But the really brilliant thing about the proposed amendment is the fact that it'll put Republicans between a rock and a hard place. How can they justify being against the right to vote? It's pretty inconceivable a political position to take, really. Which makes it a dandy "wedge issue" for Democrats, in much the same way that Republicans used a flag burning amendment a few decades ago.

There really is no political downside to supporting a voting rights amendment, no matter how you look at it. If enough powerful Democrats got on board with the proposal and made as much noise in the media as they could possibly manage on the issue, it would force Republicans to either get behind the idea or explain to their constituents why they were against supporting the right to vote.

For coming up with such a brilliant idea, the least we can do is to give Representatives Ellison and Pocan a Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. As usual, we will provide their contact info below, but if you support their idea what you should really do is contact your own members of Congress and ask them to support the proposal as well. This is a great idea, and it needs all the support and attention it can muster.

[Congratulate Representative Keith Ellison on his House contact page, and Representative Mark Pocan on his House contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

The Obama administration's "War On Leakers" has now officially morphed into a "War On Journalists." On leaks, the Obama team has brought more prosecutions than all other presidents combined -- twice as many, in fact. But while Attorney General Eric Holder recused himself from the case involving the Associated Press' phone records, his signature was discovered this week on an application for a subpoena for a Fox News reporter's emails and phone records. The subpoena charged the Fox reporter, essentially, with spying. The Justice Department didn't really have any intention of prosecuting him, they just wanted to root around in his emails and phone records to pin charges on the government employee who was his source.

This is disgraceful. This is an abuse of power. The subpoena on the Fox reporter was nothing short of a fishing expedition to prosecute yet another leak case. President Obama now says he wants a federal shield law for reporters, even though he helped kill the last such effort in Congress.

The more I learn about Eric Holder and how he operates the United States Department of Justice, the less I trust him. Which has earned him his sixth Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

[Contact the White House on their contact page, to let them know what you think of Eric Holder's actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 259 (5/24/13)

Kind of a mixed bag of talking points this week. Not much else to say about them, so I'll just let them speak for themselves.

 

1
   Fixing the IRS

This storyline needs to be turned around.

"The Obama White House was not responsible for the problems at the IRS. The Obama administration conducted the investigation which uncovered the problems, in fact. And since the inspector general's report was released, Obama has been fixing the problems at the IRS. Three people have been removed from duty already, and I wouldn't be surprised if more followed. But again -- Obama did not create the problems, he is in fact fixing the problems."

 

2
   Congress mad at themselves

Apple was on the hotseat this week, testifying about how they pay their taxes and use legal loopholes to avoid paying other taxes. But this is just laughable, really.

"I noticed that quite a few members of Congress had lots of fun grandstanding on the subject of corporate taxes, as they served up some grilled Apple this week. What a joke! What blatant hypocrisy! Nobody suggested that Apple was breaking any laws -- just that they were using loopholes in the tax code. Legal loopholes. Loopholes, in fact, that were written into the tax code by Congress. Why were these loopholes created? Because Congress created them for their corporate buddies. And now they're outraged that these loopholes are being used? Please. I mean, the stench of hypocrisy is so strong on this one it makes your eyes water. If Congress was truly outraged at the practice, then they would fix the loopholes. It's as simple as that. Although I certainly didn't notice any of them admitting it during the hearing."

 

3
   Immigration moves forward

This effort is going to require a lot of steady pushing, for many months to come.

"There was some very good news in the Senate this week, as the immigration bill was approved in committee and will now move to the floor for debate and a vote. I am optimistic about its chances, because the committee already dealt with 300 amendments, many of which were designed to kill the bill entirely. None of these amendments made it through. There will likely be more of these introduced on the Senate floor, but so far it looks like the bipartisan coalition which wrote the bill has held together. This is good news, and it improves the chances that we can pass a comprehensive immigration bill this year."

 

4
   Youth discrimination wrong, adult discrimination still OK

The Boy Scouts took half of a step this week. It's tough, because the half step was in the right direction, but it just didn't go far enough.

"While I applaud the Boy Scouts of America for finally scrapping its policy of discriminating against gay youth, I have to at the same time express disappointment that they are still apparently fine with discriminating against gay adults. This was a historic step for the Boy Scouts to take, and it's going to be contentious for some time to come among some of their supporters. But by trying to thread the needle and have it both ways, the Boy Scouts are sending an awfully mixed message. They're saying 'we welcome gay youth to be scouts, but when you turn 18, you'll have to leave scouting, sorry.' Maybe next time around, the Boy Scouts will take a more consistent stand against discrimination. They're headed in the right direction, but they still have one last step to take."

 

5
   Hypocrisy on relief

What goes around comes around, eh?

"The two senators from Oklahoma both actually opposed aid money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Now the shoe's on the other foot, and I notice that they are trying to split hairs as the rest of the Senate contemplates aid money for the victims of the devastating tornado. I would hope that being on the other side of the issue might actually teach these two Republicans a lesson about compassion. When a disaster strikes, Americans help each other. When a disaster strikes, politicians should realize this basic fact instead of playing political games for months. Sandy victims had to wait far too long for Republicans to act, and I sincerely hope this won't happen for the tornado victims."

 

6
   War On Women update

This week's installment in the "War On Women," brought to you (as always) by the Republican Party.

"Republicans are supposed to be against big government and the nanny state and all of that, except when it comes to women's health, of course. On that particular subject, it is 'government knows best.' Representative Louie Gohmert actually admitted it, in the midst of telling a woman who had aborted her brain-dead fetus that she really should have just gone through with the pregnancy, and I quote: 'So these are ethical issues, they're moral issues, they're difficult issues, and the parents should certainly be consulted.' There's the Republican attitude right there for you: the parents 'should certainly be consulted,' but the decision should be made by old male politicians, not the parents or the doctor. So much for being against big government, eh?"

 

7
   Fox News, always classy

This last one I had to throw in, just because defending a Fox News reporter earlier was so tough to do.

"While I can sympathize with Fox News against the Justice Department's overreach, I have to say that this should not be read as supporting Fox News in general. In fact, Fox makes it easy to condemn their entire organization when they allow on-air personalities to incite their audience to punch anyone who voted for Barack Obama in the face. This is merely this week's most outrageous thing said on Fox, I would ask you to note. So while I can defend a Fox reporter on principle against the Department of Justice, I certainly cannot condone any of their statements or actions in general. I would also call on Fox to immediately fire Andrea Tantaros for saying such a thing on the air."

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

21 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [259] -- Pivoting To Other News”

  1. [1] 
    LewDan wrote:

    Enforcing the law is not "overreach." There is no exception to the law for the media. The first amendment is about speech. It says government may not prohibit the press. That's all is says about the press. There is nothing about news gathering, only publishing. The forth amendment restriction on unreasonable search and seizure clearly doesn't apply. When you publish classified Intel its more than "reasonable" to assume you are in contact with violators, and conspiring to violate, the National Security Act., among others. And secret searches and seizures can't harass or intimidate anyone. They don't even know about them. The faux-outrage over being spied upon is hilarious! The press thinks its unconscionable for government to "spy" on the press because it could interfere with press ability to spy on everyone else! The press being far more essential to democracy than government or the rule of law. The protests over being investigated without proof of guilt are obvious gambits to place the press above the law. The press is not above the law. No one is. The concerted and apparently, near universal effort, to intimidate and extort Justice, so media outlets may engage in unlawful conduct with impunity, is far more dangerous to our democracy that any hypothetical "chilling" effects on law-breaking whistle-blowers. Especially since "chilling-effects" on law-breakers is why we enforce the law!

    Likewise, the facts are clear that the IRS scandal is, in fact, manufactured. The IG report never said only conservative groups we're targeted, it criticized using key words in names to flag apps, not the keywords themselves, and said some of the follow up questions were burdensome and unnecessary. It also found that most of those flagged should have been flagged. That only 1/3 we're conservative groups. That only progressive groups' apps we're denied. And that no one received extra scrutiny. The overworked, understaffed IRS office used the terms to flag apps for specialist inspection, instead of inspecting all apps, because of the volume of apps. And, of course, all of this he was, and is, known to the Republican Congressional "investigators" fomenting an misrepresenting this "scandal." Finally, there's the revelation that, under the law, no one engaged in political activity is supposed to qualify for tax-exempt 501(c) status!

    Like Benghazi, eight months and counting, still attempting to find proof of the scandal all Republicans have "known" all along, Democrats insist on helping Republicans hype this trash, by validating it in knee-jerk attempts at "damage control," and treating a press that could care less about the truth and only wants sensational headlines to attract eyeballs and sell ads, as objective reporters serving the public interest. This country's government is nonfunctional because it has three branches and the forth estate, and none of them work honestly or in the public interest.

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    Although I promised not to gloat (much) I can't help myself... :D

    The more I learn about Eric Holder and how he operates the United States Department of Justice, the less I trust him.

    In other words, the more you learn about Eric Holder, the more you realize how dead on ballz accurate about him I was, eh? ;D

    Michale

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    The IG report never said only conservative groups we're targeted,

    Oh com'on LD!

    That's like claiming that a GOP Administration's IRS used words like "black" and "hispanic" to target tax-exempt groups and yet, there was NOTHING racist about it..

    Sometimes I wonder if you really comprehend how utterly biased your claims are...

    Michale

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/highways-bridges-and-roads/301977-washington-state-democrat-gop-throwing-american-infrastructureunder-the-bus

    This is why I hate Democrats..

    They just can't WAIT to use a tragedy and innocent victims to blame Republicans..

    Whether it be a mass shooting in CT, a brutal tornado in OK or an infrastructure in WA, Democrats are the first to start fixing blame.

    Maybe if they spent a TENTH of the time fixing the problem instead of trying to fix the blame, this country would be a LOT better off...

    Yea, I know I know..

    It's *ALL* the Republicans fault.....

    Michale

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yea, I know I know.. It's *ALL* the Republicans fault.....

    Not so, Michale. I have a sneaky hunch that it's all YOUR fault ... :)

  6. [6] 
    db wrote:

    Michale

    We're back at it.

    Any number of "Black" or "Hispanic" groups have and can perform many valuable social welfare services. They do not exist solely for political purposes. Their tax-exempt applications warrant the scrutiny necessary to insure they comply with the law.

    The "Tea Party" is a political party. It says so right in the name. It has held political conventions. It had endorsed political candidates. It rightly deserves the additional scrutiny necessary to insure it complies with the law for the status it is trying to claim.

    And yes, "Elect Black Folks" would deserve, and rightfully receive, additional scrutiny if they were to apply for tax-exempt status. Equally "Tea Party Reenactments" who yearly dump (hopefully non-polluting)tea into Boston harbor along with demonstrations of 18th Century life and historical readings; would not receive scrutiny beyond that showing the non-political nature of their programs.

    BTW it's the RWMO that claim the OK tornado was a test of the Obama Weather Weapon. I haven't heard any Democrats blaming the Republicans beyond wanting to remind the OK Republican Senators of the speeches they made refusing help to Hurricane Sandy victims.

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    Not so, Michale. I have a sneaky hunch that it's all YOUR fault ... :)

    That would be my next guess.. :D

    DB,

    The "Tea Party" is a political party. It says so right in the name. It has held political conventions. It had endorsed political candidates. It rightly deserves the additional scrutiny necessary to insure it complies with the law for the status it is trying to claim.

    So, are you saying that a political group cannot perform social functions??

    Because, it clearly states in the IRS regs (which I have posted in previous commentaries) that tax-exempt groups CAN perform protests and the like..

    Equally "Tea Party Reenactments" who yearly dump (hopefully non-polluting)tea into Boston harbor along with demonstrations of 18th Century life and historical readings; would not receive scrutiny beyond that showing the non-political nature of their programs.

    And yet, that group would have received further scrutiny solely and completely because it had "tea party" in it's name..

    THAT is the point you are missing..

    To say that targeting groups with "tea party" or "patriot" associated with it is NOT targeting conservatives is to say that targeting groups that are black or hispanic is not racist.

    And yes, "Elect Black Folks" would deserve, and rightfully receive, additional scrutiny if they were to apply for tax-exempt status.

    And yet, there is NO evidence that such groups (like BLACK AMERICANS FOR OBAMA) DID receive any such scrutiny....

    No matter how you slice it, Obama's IRS moves was bigoted, illegal and completely un-American..

    That's what the majority of Democrats say, anyways.. :D

    . I haven't heard any Democrats blaming the Republicans

    Of course you haven't...

    That's because the majority of the MSM protects the Left..

    http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/20/democratic-senator-goes-on-anti-gop-rant-over-climate-change-as-tornadoes-hit-oklahoma/

    But, just because you didn't hear about it, doesn't mean it didn't happen.. :D

    Michale

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    But the scandal still hasn't touched the White House in any meaningful way,

    You mean, other than the fact that the White House first lied about it and said no one at the White House knew...

    Since they have a track record of lying over this, I wouldn't take their statements that Obama knew nothing at face value.

    Michale

  9. [9] 
    LewDan wrote:

    Michale,

    "That's like claiming that a GOP Administration's IRS used words like "black" and "hispanic" to target tax-exempt groups and yet, there was NOTHING racist about it.."

    No, your comment is like claiming the census is racist because it asks if you're black, white, or Hispanic. Its the mission of the IRS to enforce a law that says groups engaged in political activity do not qualify under 501(c). You can't do that without investigating applicants' politics! Its not rocket science. As always, you and the Republicans are simply lying.

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    You can't do that without investigating applicants' politics!

    And yet, *ONLY* conservative groups had their applications investigated..

    THAT is the entire point..

    The determination factor that initiated the investigations was SOLELY and COMPLETELY based on the ideological makeup of the groups in question..

    It's the EXACT same thing as if ONLY black groups had their applications investigated.

    THAT would be racist, right???

    So, why is it OK to base an investigation on political ideology but it's NOT ok to base an investigation on race??

    Michale

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    No, your comment is like claiming the census is racist because it asks if you're black, white, or Hispanic.

    And Obama's IRS actions are like the census calling the cops and having families investigated because they put "black" on their census forms..

    Michale

  12. [12] 
    michty6 wrote:

    As I said before the IRS thing isn't even a scandal. It's a complete joke (http://www.mattbors.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/994.png)

    The AP scandal as CW alludes to in his column is the only real 'scandal' from the past couple of weeks.

    Oh CW I have a new one for the list from this week - SaluteGate ;)

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    As I said before the IRS thing isn't even a scandal. It's a complete joke

    Yea.. Postulate a GOP Administration's IRS targeting groups for audits because they were black.

    Har Har Har

    Oh CW I have a new one for the list from this week - SaluteGate ;)

    Spoken like a true military-ignorant person..

    But, I have to give Obama credit.

    It was real class for him to return to that Marine, apologize and shake his hand..

    Michale

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    The AP scandal as CW alludes to in his column is the only real 'scandal' from the past couple of weeks.

    So, yer backing FoxNews???

    Color me surprised... :^o

    Michale

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:
  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    A while back there was a commentary about how some Democrats saw their support go up after supporting Anti-Gun legislation...

    Lawmakers facing recall bids over strict gun laws in Colorado
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/05/28/lawmakers-facing-recall-bids-over-strict-gun-laws-in-colorado/#ixzz2UaHBbx5a

    Apparently, the pendulum swings the other way now...

    Politics is a fickle mistress....

    Michale

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    As I said before the IRS thing isn't even a scandal. It's a complete joke

    As The Daily Caller has reported, at least five different IRS offices including Cincinnati, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; Chicago, Illinois and El Monte and Laguna Niguel, California improperly targeted conservative nonprofit groups for extra scrutiny between 2010 and 2012.

    The IRS’ shenanigans, chronicled in a damning report by Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George, started when a “team of [IRS] specialists” came together in April 2010 to process the tax-exempt nonprofit status of conservative groups that might be “potential political operations” (page 13 of the IG report). The IRS added “additional specialists” to this effort in December 2011.
    http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/27/washington-launches-four-different-investigations-into-irs-scandal/

    Yea... No scandal there.. :^/

    Michale

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    As I said before the IRS thing isn't even a scandal. It's a complete joke

    Let me put it this way...

    According to ya'all, the GOP is targeting minorities with their voter ID laws in an effort to sway and election and ya'all go hysterically ballistic..

    Yet, Obama's IRS targets conservatives for the same purpose and ya'all say it's no big deal...

    How is this NOT hypocrisy???

    Michale

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    Additional scrutiny of conservative organizations’ activities by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency’s Cincinnati office, with requests for information coming from other offices and often bearing the signatures of higher-ups at the agency, according to attorneys representing some of the targeted groups. At least one letter requesting information about one of the groups bears the signature of Lois Lerner, the suspended director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department in Washington.
    http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/28/18563008-irs-higher-ups-requested-info-on-conservative-groups-letters-show?lite

    The more that comes to light, the more that the story about a couple low-level IRS staffers is being exposed as the BS pack 0 lies that it is...

    Michale

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    Looks like Holder is going down for perjury.....

    Michale

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    http://www.campusreform.org/blog/?ID=4770

    That is everything that is wrong with the Left these days...

    Michale

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