CREDO SuperPac has announced the eighth member of its 'Tea Party Ten' members of Congress that it will seek to defeat in the 2012 elections, Dan Lungren of California. The 10 are chosen on the basis of their extreme positions and rhetoric and the fact that they are vulnerable. Most of them were elected in the 'wave' election of 2010 and could easily lose in 2012 if they have strong challengers.
Sometimes the actions of elected representatives become so odious that urgent action is required. Many of the Tea Party-affiliated House Republicans were elected in 2010 on a wave of concern about a very troubled economy and with millions of dollars in expenditures by political groups associated with Karl Rove or the Koch brothers. Their actions in Congress have been beyond the pale.
They voted to deny the science on global warming, to change the very definition of rape, to deny funds to Planned Parenthood for the provision of contraception, to expand tax breaks for the top 1%, and to eliminate Medicare and leave seniors and the disabled at the mercy of the insurance industry.
Lungren was announced Wednesday as the latest Republican added to the campaign. His headline reads "California's Rick Santorum":
For more than 30 years, Dan Lungren has stood for Tea Party extremism and radical assaults on equality. When the Obama Administration refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, Dan Lungren was happy to sink $1.5 million of our tax dollars into a contract with a former Bush Administration official to uphold this discriminatory law. But denying equal rights to lesbian and gay couples is about the only thing Lungren wants to fund. He voted for the Ryan budget to slash social services and end Medicare as we know it. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood, cut Pell Grants for one third of University of California undergraduates, cut $125 million from K-12 education in California, and eliminate Headstart funding for 14,000 low income children in his district. His position on women's issues are even more extreme: Lungren has sponsored legislation that would have outlawed abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and is so anti-woman that he called the Obama Administration's new regulations on no-cost birth control an "assault" on the First Amendment.
Lungren joins Mike Fitzpatrick (PA), Joe Walsh (IL), Frank Guinta (NH), Sean Duffy (WI), Steve King (IA), Chip Cravaack (MN) and Allen West (FL) on the list. Two members of the Tea Party Ten remain to be unveiled.
Martin Bashir may be the most underrated show host on cable television. His show is consistently smart, loaded with facts and good discussion without the incessant screaming and fireworks of other cable news shows. His interview of Rep. Joe Walsh was masterful and yet, polite. Which is why when Bashir closes his Thursday show with a three-minute comment where he's clearly a bit angry, it gets my attention.
Mr. Bashir is frustrated with the constant drumbeat from Republicans about President Obama allegedly turning the US government into a "European-style government" and so he delivers an excellent argument for why they are wrong, and why the ones who are trying to point the United States in the direction of European-style governance are...Republicans.
Bashir targets the Republican fetish for austerity and spending cuts as evidence that they, not Democrats, are trying to transform the United States. At the end, he offers the results of Republican-style austerity measures in Europe, and what they haven't accomplished.
[Washington D.C. – Members of Congress became involved in the Occupy discussion Tuesday as Republican leaders of the House Oversight Committee held a hearing to discover why camping has been allowed at Occupy D.C., McPherson Square.
The hearing room was filled to capacity with a mix of occupiers, media, curious staff members and police officers. The two-hour hearing ranged from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) calling the whole thing “baffling” to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a self-proclaimed “old country prosecutor” saying “the battle for this republic is going to unravel if the law… is not enforced.”
The law he was referring to is the ban on camping in some national parks. Gowdy grilled Jonathan Jarvis, the director of the National Park Service on the definition of camping.
Jarvis said it was the act of sleeping or preparing to sleep. Given that definition, Gowdy pressed on by asking why the Park Service hadn’t enforced that law.
Jarvis, who has been NPS director since 2009 and was participating in his first Congressional hearing, said they were using discretion with the unique protest. He told the Republican that the protest was a 24-hour-vigil and that absent an emergency or threat to public health or safety “they must be able to continue their vigil.” He did say that the Park Service would begin enforcing camping regulations there “very soon,” meaning that protesters may be given citations or arrested for sleeping in the park.
Timothy Zick, a law professor from William and Mary, agreed with Jarvis. He told the committee that this protest is different in that it seeks to occupy as part of its First Amendment message.
“No permit is required for a demonstration of this size, and no time requirement,” said Zick, “The agency is in compliance with regulations.”
Lurking in the background of the hearing was Rep. Darrell Issa, the Oversight Committee chairman, who fired the first shots in this debate. In December, he ordered a full investigation into Occupy D.C. McPherson after a group of three hunger strikers affiliated with the movement came to his office asking that D.C. representatives be given the right to vote in the federal government.
He was in top form at the hearing, with his hair slicked and his arrogance on full display. At one point, Congressman Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said “normally I would like to thank the chair for holding this investigation…” but that the tone was on the wrong track and Issa interrupted to say “you’re welcome." Later, he interrupted D.C.’s non-voting representative Eleanor Holmes-Norton as she lamented the fact that no one from Occupy D.C. was invited to speak on their behalf.
“This is not a country where we talk about people and don’t invite them to defend themselves…” said Norton just before Issa cut in to tell her this hearing was intended to be what would happen with the next set of protesters.
Sam Jewler, an Occupy D.C. protester, said the group had tried to contact every member of the Subcommittee on Health and D.C. in order to put forth a witness for the hearing, but no one responded. Instead him and other supporters had to watch silently as they were talked about at one of the highest levels of government.
“We were not allowed to practice our right to free speech at this hearing,” said Jewler.
Martin Bashir just painted Joe Walsh as the shyster he is in real time on Tuesday's show. After setting up the conversation about tax rates, and getting Walsh to say outright that he doesn't want debt placed on his children, which leads to the key question. Bashir asks him whether or not he has a problem shorting his child support and placing that burden on his children now.
The only defense Walsh mounts is to say he's innocent until proven guilty, and gets Bashir to agree to apologize if the court outcome shows he doesn't owe all that. Of course, these are pretty easy charges to prove. There hasn't been a dispute that he owed support that wasn't paid. Walsh is simply claiming that he doesn't owe as much as they claim.
Here's how Bashir set it up, via a conversation about Mitt Romney's tax returns:
BASHIR: Would you, though, agree with Newt Gingrich, when he says there should be a zero tax rate on capital gains on investments?
WALSH: Absolutely. There should be no --
BASHIR: You support that?
WALSH: Yes. There should be no estate tax either --
BASHIR: Mr. Walsh, if that's the case, would you be happy then, for Mitt Romney, who's revealed that over the last two years he received over forty million dollars of the back of these investments. You'd be happy that he would pay zero tax?
WALSH: Martin, let me be very succinct. Yes. That money has already been taxed....
Of course, this is the Republican party line, this idea that because the money is income from investments where the corporations have already paid taxes, dividends should not be taxable to individuals receiving them. Except we all know that the corporations, particularly those paying dividends, are paying very little, if any corporate tax. So it really hasn't been taxed at all.
Bashir did a terrific job in what follows of tying Walsh's tax attitudes into the morality of his child support attitudes. Child support is a pretty quantifiable thing. You take the earnings of each spouse, figure out the time the children spend with each spouse, and apply the formula to arrive at the support amount. In California, that's not negotiable. It is what it is, and isn't negotiated away in settlements or any other way. Today, Walsh seemed to claim he doesn't owe what's been alleged. But last year, he didn't deny he owed support payments. He simply claimed he didn't have the money to pay them, despite his rather hefty Congressional salary.
BASHIR: You've repeatedly said over the last two years in your opposition to the President when he's even suggested raising a surtax of not .5 percent to enable the American Jobs Act to be paid for, that not-.5-percent levied against people earning more than a million dollars, you've opposed that.
And one of the things you've repeatedly said is that you will not place another dollar on the back of your children. Right?
BASHIR: Can I ask you then, because something our viewers are concerned about -- Haven't you already done that by inadequately paying child support that you owe to your wife and children?
WALSH: Hey Martin, that's an awkward segue on TV --
BASHIR: I apologize, but these are questions that viewers have asked me. They'd like to know why you still owe one hundred and seventeen thousand and four hundred and thirty seven dollars in child support.
WALSH: Hey Martin, I don't and I'm fighting this issue as I've gone around my district telling everyone. Legally and privately. I don't and I'm going to fight it but this is not an issue that I'm going to bring up. My kids or even my ex-wife on TV. I will fight it legally and privately.
Something doesn't add up, as CREW notes while awarding him the title of Most Corrupt. But despite Rep. Walsh's vehement denials, the question was valid whether it's one hundred dollars owed or one hundred thousand dollars owed. If Rep. Walsh is such a believer in not placing debt on his children, he should pay his child support and quit posturing about it on television.
As a side note, if he's talking to constituents the way he talked to this one, I'm sure he's not making friends or influencing people in that area.
To give our beloved staff a chance to celebrate the holidays, we are going to revisit the most popular videos of 2011. Some of them are golden oldies that you, our C&L readers, keep going back to, some are highlights from this year. What's clear is that there is little worry that C&L will suffer from content as we head full force into an election year.
We hope that you have a lovely holiday weekend, full of comfort and joy. And we'll start our recap with the 50th most popular video on the C&L archives.
This is fantastic entry from Heather, whom Amato fondly refers to as "The Machine" for her ability to stomach so many hours of broadcasts and make so many of the clips you'll see on this list.
Here's the thing all these tea party Republicans need to remember, we liberals know our stuff. You can yell and spout off your talking points, but we're gonna get you on the facts every time. Rep. Joe Walsh is a particularly disgusting Republican--a big bully, deadbeat dad and petulant drama queen--but he picked the wrong letter carrier to abuse at a town hall meeting. In a nice bit of comeuppance, Ed Schultz talked to that letter carrier, Melissa Rakestraw and she proved that we average Joes and Janes are far better than what passes for progressive pundits these days.
You can't make this stuff up. Joe Walsh, deadbeat dad, who owes over $100,000 in back child support and lies to avoid paying it is given a "family values" blessing by the haters over at the Family Research Council?
The Sun-Times reports that the Family Research Council, a social conservative advocacy nonprofit headed by CNN pundit Tony Perkins, has awarded Walsh a 100 percent rating as a “True Blue” member of Congress. The FRC said it gave the honor to Walsh because of his “unwavering support of the family”:
“We thank Cong. Walsh who has voted consistently to defend faith, family and freedom,” said FRCA President Tony Perkins. “Cong. Walsh and other ‘True Blue Members’ have voted to repeal Obamacare, de-fund Planned Parenthood, end government funding for abortion within the health care law, uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, and continue support for school choice. I applaud their commitment to uphold the institutions of marriage and family.”“I am proud and honored to be recognized by the Family Research Council as the only member from Illinois with a 100 percent pro-family voting record,” Walsh said in a news release. “Defending American values have always been one of my top priorities, and this reward reaffirms my dedication to that fight.”
Weird. Defending American values is a top priority, yet Walsh doesn't see his family as part of that. Not only is he behind in his child support, but he also declined the Congressional health insurance plan, leaving his current wife uninsured with a pre-existing condition. I sure hope she earns a decent salary since it had to be paid for out of pocket. I'm fairly certain it would be a mistake to expect the good Congressman to pay for much of anything.
I'm waiting with bated breath for the FRC to award Judge Adams their Father of the Year award. It can't be far behind this.
In a two week span in which the East Coast of the United States was beset by a monstrous hurricane, states in the same area had their strongest earthquake since World War II and Colorado experienced its most violent quake since 1967, we were reminded once again of the important role played by federal government in our society.
Now, I’m no constitutional scholar - like, say, Michele Bachmann - but I remember something in that document about government’s responsibility for “the general welfare”, which I can only assume means that if the state you live in comes to resemble Waterworld there is probably a useful role for the government in helping you keep your head above water.
This is not only a progressive view of governance. It is also one rooted in reality and based on US history and culture. In the early days of the republic, the Congressional Act of 1803 provided assistance to a New Hampshire town damaged severely by a fire.
This pattern would continue as Congress would help the victims of natural disasters in the two centuries to follow - not including Lady Gaga’s performance at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards or Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign, of course.
The stories like the fire in New Hampshire, however, have not formed the dominant narrative since that actor-who-climbed-into-bed-with-the-monkey transformed government into something that was on your back or just for those “welfare queens”.
Reagan and his ideological soulmates understood quite well that as Josef Stalin infamously said, while “the death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”
In other words, if Americans realize that a single-payer healthcare system will help protect their parents and children from disease, then they’ll be for it. But if it can be something abstract that just helps those other people who are mere statistics at best, supplied by an amorphous “big government” with no human face, long tentacles and the ability to force you to drink fluorinated water or strictly require a pulse to purchase a firearm - well, then, it’s easy to hate.
And hate it they do. As long as it is government spending for you, and not them.
Because the truth is, with very few exceptions, conservative elected officials (of both parties) are hypocrites when it comes to spending money.
Why MSNBC insists on giving this wingnut deadbeat dad air time to spew his hate talk is beyond me, but they did. Among the gems in this clip: Walsh thinks Obama was elected because of "white guilt," he thinks it's ridiculous for President Obama to call a joint session of Congress when those should be reserved for heads of state, he doesn't know the President well enough to call him a liar but believes Obama lies, and more.
Now the thing about Joe Walsh is that he's already been banned from one MSNBC show because he's a deadbeat dad who owes thousands in back child support. Lawrence O'Donnell will not have him back. Here's the video:
The only thing worse than a liar is a deadbeat liar, and Joe Walsh qualifies. It seems that while he's had money to loan his campaign $35,000 and gallivant around with his girlfriend, his ex-wife and children haven't received anything from him. Yeah, this from the same guy who had the nerve to open up his video with this:
“President Obama, quit lying. Have you no shame, sir? In three short years, you’ve bankrupted this country.”
Before getting elected, he had told Laura Walsh that because he was out of work or between jobs, he could not make child support payments. So she was surprised to read in his congressional campaign disclosures that he was earning enough money to loan his campaign $35,000.
“Joe personally loaned his campaign $35,000, which, given that he failed to make any child support payments to Laura because he ‘had no money’ is surprising,” Laura Walsh’s attorneys wrote in a motion filed in December seeking $117,437 in back child support and interest. “Joe has paid himself back at least $14,200 for the loans he gave himself.”
Walsh’s attorneys responded in court filings: “Respondent admits that funds were loaned to his campaign fund. . . . Respondent admits that the campaign fund has repaid certain loans.”
He personally wrote in court filings that he thought he and his ex-wife were coming to an agreement on the money he owes. He noted that the children have lived with him for part of the last nine years.
Walsh lives with his new wife and children in McHenry. He has not paid any of the $117,437 yet, Laura Walsh’s attorney, Jack Coladarci, said Wednesday.
There's lots more in the article but I could have written it myself because I was a kid with a dad just like Walsh. Never do they pay for what kids really need, and then they swoop in like Superman to be the dad-hero and take you somewhere that seems really cool with their girlfriend who they're really trying to impress so you just once again sort of sit on the sidelines.
I can feel Walsh's ex-wife's frustration in those court filings. Joe Walsh clearly lies whenever it suits him to avoid obligations, he gets away with all sorts of exceptions others wouldn't. Others would get their license suspended or their wages garnished. But Walsh seems to manage to stay one step ahead of it whenever he can.
This is the Tea Party writ large right now. Lie, cheat, steal, and then walk away from moral and financial obligations as though they were nothing to worry about. And he has the nerve to call President Obama a liar.
Rep. Joe Walsh's weird, bullying, argumentative appearance on Hardball left me a little confused. Actually, Joe Walsh confuses me, and I'm thinking that's probably intentional. In addition to his, um, spirited defense of the odious cut, cap, mangle bill that passed yesterday, he is pimping a letter to his colleagues encouraging them not, under any circumstances to take the McConnell deal.
Freshman Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh circulated a letter he said was signed by roughly 50 members asking the House GOP leadership to “publicly disavow” the last-ditch debt-limit proposal pitched by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, vowing not to bring it up for a floor vote “in any form.”
So, C&L readers, riddle me this, assuming the following facts:
Wall Street does not gain anything from a US Bond default. In fact, it will send markets into the tank yet again. While it's true that bear markets are a time to pick up some bargains, it's equally true that if the US defaults, we're going to be looking for bargain bread heels, not stocks.
Business does not gain anything from a US Bond default. If our bonds are downgraded, interest rates go up, US Treasury bonds become higher-risk investments, rocking the entire bond market. Business won't be exempt. Their rates go up.
With that in mind, what incentive is there for these TeaBirchers to turn on Wall Street? Or flipping the question, what benefit to Wall Street is there in having rogue politicians that they're funding as recently as June 30th threatening to blow up the US economy?
This is the question I've been struggling to answer, and it seems to be one I haven't seen asked in the mainstream. While everyone is calling the horserace and wondering whether Obama will wreck Social Security, Medicare and the like, no one is asking why on earth Congressmen who Wall Street helped elect would seemingly be biting their master on the ass.
Here are a couple of thoughts I had, but take them for what they are, just thoughts. I'd be interested to hear what yours are on it.
Fulfilling Grover Norquist's ideal of killing government entirely
There are two things investors consider when buying government bonds. They are essentially making two bets. One bet is on the government’s ability to pay that debt within the maturity of the bond, so whether it is 10 or 30 years, investors are betting that the government will make good on its promise to service its debt and pay it in full throughout the life of the bond. The second bet is political. Investors are hoping that the government doesn’t suddenly change its political and economic system entirely and, as a result, opt out on paying bondholders. When it comes to the US, investors know they are investing in a political system that will remain sound. In Greece, they are buying bonds at a steep discount and speculating that the 50 they paid will one day be worth 65. Political risk has never been in play in the US. Until now.
Is it possible that this is actually an intentional effort to make the US government appear to be unstable, or to destabilize confidence in the US government in order to kill it, a la Norquist's dream? If it is, then we also have to consider the consequences of such an action from a political standpoint, which would be a scenario where, after destabilizing everything, Republicans claim to be the only ones who can re-stabilize it.
That was a favorite strategy of Jack Abramoff's after all. Lobby to kill one tribe's casino so they could get paid by that tribe to reinstate it.
This strategy could also play into the dominionists' rise in the form of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, who claim to be God-called to 'save the United States.'
Outright bald, naked, out of control hate for Barack Obama
After all, we do have McConnell claiming their number one goal is to defeat Obama in 2012. Is it really possible they could tank the entire economy for the sole purpose of gaining politically? And if so, it would appear to be backfiring on them in a big way, given the amount of political capital they've spent and lost in this battle.
Or maybe, it's just "how the hell did I get boxed into this corner?"
Here’s how this may play out: The House passes “cut cap and balance” today, it fails in the Senate over the weekend; and by Monday everyone finally realizes that there’s no way the White House and Congressional leaders will ever reach a deal exchanging spending cuts for revenue hikes. At that point, the aide predicts, everyone may throw up their arms and say, “what now?” It’s only then that House Republicans — who got their chance to vote Yes on spending caps and a balanced budget amendment — will realize that they have no choice but to pass the McConnell proposal.
The McConnell proposal is, in my mind, the very worst outcome other than default because (repeat after me) there will be no deal. What needs to happen, and what should happen, is that Republicans peel off their 60 rebellious freshman teenagers, join with Democrats and pass the damn debt ceiling increase clean and pretty.
Here's one more factor to consider. Some of these vocal freshmen (like Walsh) are about to be redistricted out of office. That makes me wonder if Walsh is just the mouthpiece for what will, in the end, be a losing proposition but serves as a distraction to try and get Democrats and the President to cave.
It bothers me that wingnuts like Walsh are given this kind of time on cable TV without asking these questions. It bothers me that Walsh is still receiving so many Wall Street donations while playing the "blow the whole thing up" game. It bothers me that he and Pat Toomey are both Club for Growth Republicans and threatening to blow it up. It makes me feel like there's more to the strategy than has been discussed. So start discussing. :)