A colossal waste of time.
Republican Justin Amash stands by position to start impeachment proceedings despite criticism
The Michigan lawmaker is the only Republican member of Congress who has said he supports impeachment proceedings.
May 28, 2019, 10:25 PM CDT / Updated May 28, 2019, 10:36 PM CDT
By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Alex Moe
…a Republican who supported Amash and the president said she was upset about Amash’s position but wanted to hear his reasoning. She said that she will definitely support Trump in 2020 but that Tuesday night was the first time she had heard that the Mueller report didn’t completely exonerate the president.
“I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn’t heard that before,” she said. “I’ve mainly listened to conservative news and I hadn’t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump has been exonerated….”
Because she couldn’t be bothered to find the easily available report on-line and actually read it.
Missouri’s junior senator, Republican Roy Blunt, has finally deigned to give us, via the GOP House organ, Fox News, his version of their Kavanaugh talking points:
The key comments here are his claims that “unfair” and “unrealistic” Democrats sat on Dr. Blasey-Ford’s story until late in the process and then declared Kavanaugh “guilty until proven innocent.” Since Fox’s Maria Bartiromo didn’t seem to want to push back on these assertions, I would like to offer the following observations:
— Although evidence indicates that Senator Dianne Feinstein’s account of the reasons for the late timing is accurate, the entire question amounts to little more than a red herring. The real issue is whether credible claims of serious wrong-doing should be ignored and not be fully investigated because they didn’t emerge earlier during more general routine vetting; innocent until proven guilty presupposes that a fair and transparent effort to secure proof will take place.
— One might also note that whether or not Kavanaugh is, as Senator Blunt asserts, one of the “most vetted candidate in the history of confirmations” is not a real answer to credible claims by his Democratic colleagues that the very curtailed and limited investigation into this specific allegation was inadequate.
Sen. Blunt is to be commended for not picking up on the shameless GOP whine about how Blasey-Ford’s credible accusations endanger those poor, quivering, white males who might be falsely accused of sexual assault. Yes, false accusations of rape are made – in, it is estimated, only 2 – 10% of cases. It follows that that 90%+ rape allegations are verified. And, of course, the way to verify the truth of any allegation of sexual assault is a full and unbiased investigation of the sort that the GOP-controlled senate and the White House did not allow to take place in the Kavanaugh case. Wonder why, anyone?
Finally, Blunt, riding high on the results of a Marist poll from last week, that found GOP enthusiasm for voting heightened after the Kavanaugh hearings, predicts that if Democrats continue to raise issues about the legitimacy of Kavanaugh’s appointment, the “strategy” will backfire. In other words, the GOP wants to put down a potential on-going firestorm before it blows their narrative out of the water – and they’re counting on past Democratic spinelessness in the face of conservative attacks to do the job.
However, today a CNN poll which, unlike the Marist poll, was taken after the confirmation of Kavanaugh, should give Senator Blunt pause when it comes to trying to scare Democrats out of demonstrating their anger about a stolen Supreme Court appointment: in response to a question about voting enthusiasm, 62% of Democrats say they are “extremely or very enthusiastic to vote, up seven points since September.” In contrast, 52% of Republicans reported enthusiasm about voting in November, a result that is only 2% higher than in September.
Maybe Senator Blunt ought to help his senate leadership cronies retool some of that nasty, Trumpian Kavanaugh spin they’re spewing. It’s possible that even a few Republicans are embarrassed to belong to a party that elevates misogynistic, biased, lying, judicial hacks to positions of power and prominence.
*Edited slightly for clarity (6:20 pm, 10/9/2018)
Part one of Putin’s Revenge, a PBS Frontline investigation into the role Russia’s Vladimir Putin played in influencing the 2016 U.S. election, explores the rise of the Russian dictator and the events that determined his behavior toward the U.S. In the process it tells us how almost the first action that Putin took after assuming the role of Prime Minister was to engineer the takeover of independent TV broadcasting stations by rich “friends” of the Russian state apparatus personified by Putin. Since more than 90% of all Russians get their news from TV, this was an important step toward imposing an authoritarian state under Putin’s control.
Why is this interesting?
Almost as many Americans as Russians are dependent on TV for their news. Sinclair Broadcasting controls much of that news – and Sinclair, known for its conservative tilt, seems to be happily cavorting in Donald Trump’s grimy bed, perhaps even conspiring to make sure that the only news Americans get to see is friendly to Trumpland denizens
What does Sinclair get out of this relationship? First off, the proposed merger between Tribune News and Sinclair, which has been in danger of flunking the monopoly tests that the FCC uses to evaluate such mergers – precisely so that no company can take total control of American news sources – will come up for a vote in November. Wanna bet how Trump’s FCC, headed by a new chairman, Mitch McConnel’s boy, Ajit Pai, will vote? If the merger goes through – likely a foregone conclusion – seven out of ten Americans will potentially be getting their news from Sinclair. Second, the FCC just voted to relax long-standing rules that mandated that news outlets own and operate a station in the locale where they broadcast, moving us one step closer to content controlled, remotely distributed “news reports” that Sinclair has specialized in producing.
Sinclair is already a media player in Missouri. In the St. Louis area where I live, it owns ABC affiliate KDNL (broadcast channel 30). The merger would put two more stations in St. Louis under Sinclair’s thumb, KPLR and KTVU (broadcast channels 11 (CW) and 2 (Fox)). That’s three out of the four major St. Louis broadcast stations, folks. And broadcast is where many, often older, citizens get their local news.
And just consider what Sinclair has done with local news reports on KDNL: it’s gotten rid of them. And what have they put on in place of local news? Are you familiar with the rightwing radio noisemaker, Jamie Allman? If Sinclair dominates the local TV environment, I suspect
folks in and around St. Louis will become more familiar than they like.
That’s because, instead of the local news programs that are traditionally broadcast at 5:00 and 10:00 pm, KDNL currently airs the Allman Report, a half hour blitz of honest-to-God fake news (the real thing, not Trump-labeled fake news.). To be fair, when challenged, Allman calls it “commentary,” not news, but it still occupies the niche we associate with local news broadcasts and, in the absence of any real local reporting, seems to be intended to fill that void.
This given, I thought I’d check out the Allman Report, so I watched the program all the way through last Wednesday. Here’s some of the highlights of what watchers learned in a single half-hour:
- The President of Thrive STL, Bridget Van Means, was on the show to promote the latest TRAP law, SB5, that has come out of the Missouri legislature. Thrive, for those of you who aren’t aware of the organization, has made a name for itself by offering religiously-slanted, anti-birth control sex education in local schools. Thrive STL also runs several anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy” centers in the area. If I had taken Van Means at face value, I would have learned that the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic was a veritable abortion charnel house that has attempted to hide its bloody deeds by silencing the sirens of the ambulances that visit the clinic in higher numbers than anywhere else in the U.S. SB 5 will mandate that sirens be heard and women warned about the dangers of abortion. Whoopdie do. Van Means also wanted me to know that colonoscopies are more highly regulated than abortions – which, she believes, fully justifies the numerous restrictions imposed by SB5 – despite the fact that the consensus of most medial professionals is that they are medically unnecessary.
- FACTCHECK: After being sued by an anti-abortion group, the infamous Operation Rescue, the St. Louis Fire Department released documents detailing the number of emergency pickups at the Planned Parenthood clinic from Jan. 2009 to April 2016. So what’s the appalling truth? There were 58 emergency calls during a period that saw 135,000 patient visit to the clinic. Moreover, at least half of these calls were not associated with abortion, but with other services offered by the clinic. As for the greater regulation of colonoscopies, they’re 10 times more likely than abortion to result in lethal complications – hence the more stringent regulations that insure similar survival outcomes.
- Two members of the elected St. Louis School Board came on to tell us why control of the school board should revert from the Special Administrative Board (SAB) back to the elected board. The big takeaway here, judging from Allman’s response, was the astounding fact the elected board had not been in charge of St. Louis Schools for the last ten years. I guess he slept through all the Sturm und Drang that resulted in the appointment of the SAB. He certainly provided no further context to help folks understand the situation. My big takeaway: The President of the elected board allowed as to how folks are taking their children out of St. Louis schools and sending them to private or charter schools because they’re so bothered about the fact that the elected school board is being ignored.
- FACTCHECK: Don’t know much about the merits of the current elected board, but I seem to remember reading that the loss of students from the public system predates the schism between the two boards and has a lot to do with the general factors that bedevil underfunded public school systems that serve poverty-stricken inner cities. It is a fact, nevertheless, that the SAB has brought the system back to a fully accredited status – and that it is currently involved in preparing to address the status of the two boards, two important facts that were, as I remember, not discussed.
- In a final editorial segment, Allman asserted that recent revelations about how the DNC and the Clinton campaign had funded the research that went into the infamous Steele dossier somehow meant that Hillary Clinton was really the one that Robert Mueller has been investigating. Yeah, I know. Crazy, right? Allman did allow that the research had initially been commissioned by Republicans, but, then declared with utter confidence, though without any evidence, that the responsible Republican was none other than the nefarious, anti-Trump Jeb Bush.
- FACTCHECK: The Steele dossier grew out of “oppo” research, common to all modern political campaigns. Nothing criminal there, nothing to trigger an investigation (although that won’t stop Republicans from “investigating it” – anything to divert attention from Trump’s ties to Russia). Nor was it ever used. The only criminal activities involved were laid out in the findings of the dossier which have excited the interest of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. It was, we have now learned, initially commissioned by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative Website whose bills are paid by a prominent Republican donor, Richard Singer, a supporter of Marco Rubio during the GOP primary. No Jeb Bush.
- An interesting incidental tidbit that popped up during a call-in segment suggests that things aren’t necessarily going to be roses for Josh Hawley’s effort to take Claire McCaskill’s seat. A sweet elderly-sounding lady told Allman that she could never vote for Hawley because he didn’t kiss Trump’s feet (a bit of literary license here, but you get the drift).
- FACTCHECK: Time will tell.
In case this partial resume of Wednesday’s program hasn’t properly horrified you, bear in mind that the disgraced sex-offender and rightwing rage-machine, Bill O’Reilly, is currently in negotiations with Sinclair for a two-hour show to run on the broadcaster’s local stations starting at either 6:00 or 7:00 pm.
It looks like Putin’s favorite puppet has got the playbook – American version – down cold.
They keep sending these mail pieces to a Union household.
By the way, who’s paying for this crap?
Right wingnut millionaires or billionares don’t fund propaganda mail pieces to your household telling you…
…which church you should join or support.
…which charity you should join or support.
…which YMCA (seriously, WTF?) you should join or support.
If they were truly concerned about the welfare of working people and their families in Missouri you’d think they would, right?
Nah, they just believe that peeple in misooree our stoopit.
Astroturf propaganda (August 1, 2017)
Astroturf. You know, fake grassroots.
They sent this to a union household:
“Union bosses” are elected by their members. Are billionaires? Just asking. Yeah, right, billionaires and multi-millionaires are going to choose to pay working people higher wages.
Astroturf propaganda (August 3, 2017)
No, Americans aren’t ‘fine with torture.’ They strongly reject it.
By Paul Gronke, Darius Rejali and Peter Miller December 11
What it’s called matters – a fact not lost on the Bush Administration, which coined new phrases to call practices “not-torture.” It redefined the meaning of legal words and concepts, and described specific interrogation techniques as vaguely as possible….
EITs it is, then.
A picket sign from around 2002.
As if anything has changed in the last decade.
A Small Clique Of Legal Extremists… (February 24, 2008)
We have already determined what we are… (December 9, 2014)
“…to otherwise commit moral and national suicide by euphemism.” (December 10, 2014)
The world remains the same (December 11, 2014)
Remember when GOPer Roy Blunt ran for the Senate by harping on the “failed” stimulus?
Remember when Rep. Todd Akin (R-2) took to the floor of the U.S. House to denounce the Recovery Act (i.e., the stimulus) as a failure, and Obama and the Democrats for turning the Bush recession into a depression?
Remember when Rep. Billy Long (R-6) demanded that Congress “admit they made a mistake and vote to repeal the Stimulus Act in order to reduce our deficit”?
These examples offer a very small subset of the disrespect that our GOP delegation lobbed at the Recovery Act. Almost every Missouri GOPer has a small archive of similar statements. They are usually accompanied by recipes for budget cuts, deficit reduction and similar austerity measures.
Which is what makes this chart (h/t Maddow blog) so sweet (for those of us in the U.S. at least). Look at what happened to Great Britain and the Eurozone countries that took the austerity message so deeply to heart:
Britain, whose austerity policies many GOPers urged the administration to emulate, has officially entered a “double-dip” recession, while the U.S., where our President and his Democratic allies managed to push a small stimulus past GOP obstructionists, shows slow but consistent growth ever since the stimulus package began to take effect in the second half of 2009.
Don’t forget, either, that many economists have faulted the Recovery act only for being too small. Most realize, though, that a larger stimulus would have been impossible given the Republican’s hide-bound, seemingly ideological opposition to the Keynesian approach that proved so effective in the 1930s and 40s.
Ed Kilgore, reporting on Robert Draper’s new book on the 111th Congress, quotes several passages that indicate that the GOP war on the stimulus may have been motivated by political considerations as much or even more than ideological concerns. Draper recounts the almost immediate mobilization of key Republican policy makers, at a dinner on the night of the Obama inauguration no less, to devise ways to “submarine” the Obama presidency. Kilgore summarizes the strategy they devised:
In Draper’s account, these schemers decided on three very immediate steps: a campaign of villification [sic] aimed at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, an effort to obtain a unanimous vote in the House against economic stimulus legislation, and an early initiation of attack ads.
So political has the attack on the stimulus been and so divorced from fact, that I doubt whether the dire effects of the austerity crash across the Atlantic will penetrate GOP rhetoric in the slightest degree. I predict we’ll continue to hear the same tired canards about the “failed” stimulus” from the same cast of characters from now until November. Maybe then, if we’re lucky, the players will change for the better – in a few cases at least.
First: I know this is supposed to be a blog about Missouri politics and politicians, but on the grounds that, judging from polls and the virulence of local Tea Party crowds, lots of Missourians form their views of the political firmament based on Fox reporting and opining, this report by Eric Boehlert of Media Matters is, if not exactly enlightening, at least validating. It is based on interviews with a former Fox News employee and is worth reading in its entirety.
Second: My apologies for offering little or no commentary, but the following highlights from Boehlert’s article say it all:
– On Fox’s Republican bias:
It is their M.O. to undermine the administration and to undermine Democrats,” says the source. “They’re a propaganda outfit but they call themselves news.
– On Fox’s political role:
The real story, and the real danger posed by the cable outlet, is that over time Fox News stopped simply leaning to the right and instead became an open and active political player, sort of one-part character assassin and one-part propagandist, depending on which party was in power. And that the operation thrives on fabrications and falsehoods
– On employee attitudes:
My internal compass was to think like an intolerant meathead,” the source explains. “You could never error [sic] on the side of not being intolerant enough.
– On the Bush years:
We were a Stalin-esque mouthpiece. It was just what Bush says goes on our channel. And by that point it was just totally dangerous. Hopefully most people understand how dangerous it is for a media outfit to be a straight, unfiltered mouthpiece for an unchecked president.
– On the Fox news strategy:
… If one controversy faded, goddamn it they would find another one. They were in search of these points of friction real or imagined. And most of them were imagined or fabricated. You always have to seem to be under siege. You always have to seem like your values are under attack. The brain trust just knew instinctively which stories to do, like the War on Christmas.
And best of all:
The former insider admits to being perplexed in late 2009 when the Obama White House called out Murdoch’s operation as not being a legitimate new source, only to have major Beltway media players rush to the aid of Fox News and admonish the White House for daring to criticize the cable channel.
You don’t say.
Remember how Tom Sawyer managed to get out of the onerous job of painting Aunt Polly’s fence? He just employed a little misleading rhetoric and persuaded his friends that it was the best fun ever, and if they would only pay him for the privilege, he would surrender the paint brush and let them paint to their hearts content.
Isn’t this exactly what the GOP and their media supporters have managed to do in reverse? That is, take a long
lineup list of Democratic legislative achievements that will make our lives better, persuade a big swath of not so savy Americans that the list is a criminal indictment, and if they’ll only fork over their votes, they’ll get in on the fun and get to lob some figurative stones at the responsible malefactors.
Let us be clear – Republicans have done nothing for two years but try to stamp their sclerotic old feet on the brakes. It was Democrats who stabilized the economy and staved off another Great Depression. Democrats gave us health care reform that will provide millions of previously uninsured people with protection, rationalize medical spending and ultimately contribute to lowering the deficit. In spite of massive lobbying efforts to stop them, Democrats took on the broken regulatory system and passed a major financial oversight bill. There are dozens of smaller achievements.
But just today we read in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Robin Carnahan hid from the Vice President when he visited here on Friday. The report details the ways she tries to brush off any association with the successes of the past two years. If you read Michael Bersin’s recent Claire McCaskill Q&A posts, you’ll note that she’s definitely on the defensive also. Which leads one to ask: Why aren’t our Missouri Democrats on the attack instead of on the run? Don’t they know that if you run, you’re gonna get chased down and the end isn’t usually pretty?
I don’t mean to be too hard on our Missouri Democrats – who would probably love to do the right thing. They are no different from the rest of the party. As a group, they’ve been outclassed by the Tom Sawyers of the GOP, who have joined up with the media arm of their right-wing noise machine to blast heavy-duty flim-flam from coast to coast – and Americans sure do like them some flim-flam.
In part, this is an issue of what George Lakoff calls framing although I prefer to talk about hijacking. Republicans use simple, frequently dishonest, often manufactured refrains, repeated incessantly and aimed at the gut in order to hijack perceptions. They’re cynical enough, crazy enough, or stupid enough to do this without qualms. And how should Democrats respond to being hijacked by crazed morons? Certainly not by pretending to be just as cynical, crazy or stupid.
Remember the Maersk Alabama hijacking? The ship’s crew didn’t jump overboard – they threw the hijackers off. Before Democrats can successfully reframe their agenda, they have to stand up to Republicans. If they jump off the boat, it’s lost.
Instead of hemming and hawing about her previous support for health care, why doesn’t Carnahan demand to know how Blunt could vote against the welfare of the millions of Americans? Why aren’t Carnahan, McCaskill and other Missouri Democrats demanding that the Republican zealots stand up and face a few unpleasant facts? Why are they all so dammed nice and quiet, only speaking up when they think they might be able to claim a Republican brownie point? Instead of running in the direction that the polls point, why aren’t they out there planting the direction signs? Where are our leaders?
* Third from last paragraph edited for clarity. The phrase “frequently dishonest, often manufactured” was added to the second sentence .