All Those Flags And Props Crowding The Visible Corner Of His Desk For This Photo-Op Won't Change Facts
I wrote last week how Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis was shamelessly using the veterans he claims to support as political footballs in his vote to shut down the government, which you can read in more detail here.
Since that writing, he's doubled down on exploiting those veterans to their detriment, and for his own political gain, by trying to mislead the public and shift blame from himself and his party, as noted in this Tweet:
John Boehner, the House Speaker who can't jump in front of a camera fast enough these days to chastise President Obama to "negotiate" over that which isn't negotiable in the first place clearly doesn't understand what the word means. Negotiating implies that both sides entering into those negotiations would get something. Republicans who have forced a government shutdown are really just blackmailing the American people to give up their chance at affordable health care, or they will refuse to do their job, thus crashing the economy on top of our now barely functioning government.
Yesterday Rick Scott took the opportunity to jump on the dishonest Republican pile on against President Obama, blaming FAA sequestration cuts on him rather than the party who pushed sequestration and wanted it in the first place: His own.
The cuts have been hurting everyday Americans since they began, but it wasn't until they started actually impacting things Republicans care about that they started complaining. Never mind that elderly cancer patients were being denied lifesaving chemotherapy, the GOP was most concerned that their constituents couldn't get a White House tour. Yesterday they started whining about air traffic delays caused by furloughs of air traffic controllers forced by the sequester.
First, Scott tries to kill two talking points with one stone here, as per usual. These cuts will devastate Florida families only because they are part of this year's campaign theme for Rick Scott's reelection. Had the sequestration cuts come several months ago, the biggest impact would have been on the "Job creators." Why Scott left teachers out of the list of those impacted I'm not sure, but then finding a way to tie flight delays to teacher's salaries would have been a stretch even for one-talking-point-fits-all Rick Scott, so I suppose that makes sense.
Second, Scott presumes to lecture the President and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on facts and figures and the impact those cuts will have. Had he been paying attention, he would have no doubt heard the same when the President was making speeches for months asking Republicans to put an end to the sequester, which they refused to do. But then paying attention isn't Scott's strong suit. Neither is fact-based reality.
Third, and this is the big one, does Rick Scott really think he's in a position to lecture others on the importance of transportation in Florida and the heavy price we pay for gridlock and be met with a straight face, nor a return letter saying "This is a joke, right?" from President Obama and Ray LaHood? Of course he shouldn't. He's the man who took billions of dollars for high-speed rail and threw it back in both men's faces, tossing jobs along with them, leaving Floridians to scratch their heads as they spent the better parts of their days sitting in traffic that would have been a thing of the past had Scott not done so. No, we couldn't have high-speed rail any more than we could have affordable health care because they would be an impediment to "freedom" and were offered up by a Democrat in the White House.
Well, sorry Rick, but that "freedom" and stupidity are now biting you in the backside just like all the Republicans who did the same, especially those who pushed for the sequester in the first place. If you want to point fingers, start with those guys, not President Obama. The sequester could end easily if they wanted it to. You can start by aiming that digit squarely at Florida Republicans who voted for sequestration. You can also aim it back at yourself. You decried "big government" as you ran for office, and now that cuts from said big government who you want to "keep their hands out of your business" are a reality, you're whining like a spoiled child who didn't get his way.
Asked what his message would be to congressional Republicans and Democrats, who approved sequestration as an expected intolerable solution to force agreement on a budget, Scott said Washington should follow Florida's lead in balancing the budget and creating efficiencies.
Balancing a budget and creating efficiencies? You mean like billions added to the budget for say, jobs and efficient high-speed rail projects?
No, of course you don't have an answer. You have talking points that make no sense.
It kind of leaves you and your Republican colleagues speechless when your policies collide with the real world, doesn't it Rick?
President Obama held a press conference this morning after meeting with Congressional leaders to talk about his plans to move the country forward in light of the severe budget cuts that will start to take effect today.
In Florida, you can thank these House Republicans (phone numbers here) for turning their backs on everyday Floridians and the country so they can protect millionaires and billionaires from having to pay their fair share of taxes.
With the March 1 deadline fast approaching for the sequester that Republicans wanted and used as a bargaining chip in exchange for not crashing the economy in the debt ceiling fight, Republicans are trying to pin the blame on anyone but themselves in spite of, well, facts. Everyone knows how the GOP is on facts these days.
They don't matter.
In keeping with that magical thinking policy, today Governor Rick Scott, being forced to face reality for the second time in a week, issued a statement in order to point the finger of blame in the general direction of Washington:
“Sequestration means the Obama Administration and Congress failed to do their job to manage the budget. As thousands of Floridians lose their jobs, the Obama Administration and Congress are getting paid for not doing theirs. That’s just wrong.
“The impacts on Florida’s military installations and defense industries will be severe under the meat hammer of sequestration. Our immediate concerns include dramatic reductions to our National Guard, which threatens our ability to respond to wildfires this spring and hurricanes this summer.
“Now is the time for leadership. It is critical for all national leaders to find a way forward that will not have unwarranted, unnecessary impacts on both our economic and our national security.”
Aside from the standard boilerplate that everything bad that happens is President Obama's fault, notice Scott blames "Congress" in general. If Scott were really serious about calling out "Congress," he would be on the phone with Florida Republicans urging them to stop playing their "elementary school game of ‘chicken.’ " as he put it. But of course he won't do that.
Here is how Republicans voted on the blackmaildebt ceiling. Only five Republicans from Florida voted "no." The rest were just fine with it, even though they knew the consequences of the bargaining chip they used, the sequester, would be dire for their constituents if it came to pass.
So here we are.
While they try their hardest to place the blame on President Obama, here are the facts. Republicans want this sequester as much as they want to have it both ways, but their logic is laughable. They've used every excuse they can come up with, and none of them make sense, especially when you compare them.
The cuts are "horrible!" The end of the world as we know it! Yet they could stop them easily, and so far they aren't budging. Some have claimed this is a trap set for them by President Obama. By that logic, why would they willingly walk into it then? Again, because they want them.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he got "98 percent" of what he wanted in the final deal to raise the debt ceiling.
"When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy," Boehner said in an interview with CBS News on Monday evening.
The final vote to give Boehner that 98% of what he wanted was 269-161, with 174 Republicans backing the bill. Only sixty-six Republicans voted against it.
Flying in the face of logic with their other excuses, some have also said the equivalent of "Meh! It's just not going got be a big deal." That's because, again, Republicans want the sequester. They're perfectly happy to have austerity measures in place that will cut even more programs for the poor, and hurt the average American further than they have already, all to protect their rich friends and their corporate bosses. They'll cut anything to avoid raising taxes on the wealthiest who pay very little as it is now. This is what they want. It falls in line with the ideology of the conservative wing of their party, something which Joy-Ann Reid explains in more detail here.
Rick Scott is of course one of those ideologues. But he's also a governor who is crashing in the polls, faces reelection, and is now facing the consequences of accepting reality and Medicaid expansion. The Tea Party and the crazy wing of the GOP have voiced their dismay with that choice he made last week. By generalizing the blame, he seeks to have it both ways.
Good luck with that.
If the sequester Republicans want goes through, make no mistake, it will hurt Floridians, and our Florida Republican Congressmen and women who voted for it know this. Here are some of the ways Floridians will get hurt by their actions:
Statewide impacts: There will be even more cuts in education, the military, law enforcement, clean air and water protection, work study jobs and Head Start programs. Funding will be cut in these areas: vaccinations for children, meal programs for seniors, other public health programs, and protection from domestic violence. These are just some of the statewide cuts. For a more detailed list of these, along with severe national impacts, see the report here.
Americans who have already paid dearly for wars that never should have happened thanks to Republicans, bailed out the banks when they nearly crashed the world economy, many whom were also hurt further during the process, are now being asked to make even more sacrifices so that a minute few of the wealthiest among us can gain even more wealth without having to pay their fair share in taxes.
Because the one thing Republicans stand firm against is raising taxes for the rich. Under any circumstances. For that they are willing to risk the nation's economy, while throwing seniors, children and every average American over the cliff. Not only are they not creating jobs, they aren't willing to pay those who have them fairly, and for those who don't, they plan even more cuts to unemployment.
For these reasons, and a few others of his own, Governor Rick Scott will never "make the call" to his fellow Republicans to avoid the sequester that will hurt all Floridians. He knows which side his bread is buttered on, and his party is slowly letting him churn for himself.
That's why Floridian will have to make the call to their Congressmen and women themselves and make their voices heard. We are now our own representatives, and we are the ones who will get hurt.
Republicans know that, and they just don't care. They have job security, and we're paying for it.
“Today’s events are a stark reminder of the need to invest in space science,” Smith said. “Asteroid 2012 DA14 passed just 17,000 miles from Earth, less than the distance of a round trip from New York to Sydney. And this morning, a much smaller meteorite hit near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, damaging buildings and injuring hundreds."
"Developing technology and research that enable us to track objects like Asteroid 2012 DA14 is critical to our future," Smith said. "We should continue to invest in systems that identify threatening asteroids and develop contingencies, if needed, to change the course of an asteroid headed toward Earth.”
While events like these are a real cause for concern, it's a shame that there is very little concern about another real danger that we should be addressing: climate change.
Ladies And Gentlemen: Meet The New Republican Party
Remember when Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal (of all people) said it was time for the GOP to stop being the stupid party? At the time there was much eye rolling over his statement because the fact that they seem to BE the stupid party stands in the way of their being capable of proving otherwise.
Hence, their three responses to the State of the Union tonight: One from Marco Rubio, one from Rand Paul, and now one from the newly invited gun wielding representative from the NRA who has threatened the President and others, Ted Nugent.
Yes, who are you calling the "Party of stupid?!"
First we have the so-called "establishment" Republican, Marco Rubio, who has in fact flirted with the Tea Party often in order to get votes, but can't quite commit to them because of their growing unpopularity. He supports many of their policies to keep them on his good side, but as his record so far in the Senate shows, they never make it much further beyond the sound byte stage.
We're being told that Marco is the "savior" of the Republican Party, but so far there's absolutely no evidence to back up the claim. Beyond giving lots of speeches, making numerous appearances on FOX-GOP-TV, and "writing" a book (wink, wink) that almost no one read, he has a dismal record of accomplishments. If you can call it a record. He's never sponsored a bill that made it into law, and of the 20 he's co-sponsored, well, none of those have made it into law either. Sure, the villagers in the traditional media and his Party have been boasting of his bold stance on immigration for over a year now. But here's the thing they rarely mention: He's never actually put anything on paper, and when he finally got the chance to "shine" on the issue a couple weeks ago, his "bold stance" was to say his so-called "ideas" would be folded into any legislation others eventually put forward. He then stood along side others for the cameras looking very serious. That's about it.
The other "saviors" who preceded him responding to SOTU's were Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, and Mitch Daniels. Of course they all did so well, and I suspect that Rubio will follow suit in that line of fail. His biggest opposition selling point thus far when it comes to President Obama is that everything he's done is wrong. Stop me if you've heard that one before.
We're told that tonight Rubio will talk of the evils of big government, and will talk of free enterprise as the way forward for the middle class. In other words, basically the same policies that Mitt Romney and Republicans lost the election over. This is the big, bold, brand new Republican Party message? Nope. It's the same message Rubio has been selling in previous speeches. Nothing new to see here. But the villagers in the media will try to tell you otherwise. Trust those of us from Florida, there's nothing new in the way of big ideas from Marco. We've been hearing the same thing for years. As far as his "fiscal responsibility" cred goes? Well, let's just say that he's the poster child for reforming the campaign finance system in Florida right now.
Rand Paul? Well, what can we say about him. He talks tough while saying nothing and was basically offering the fringe alternative to the "serious sounding" blather from Marco Rubio. I say "was the fringe" because yesterday the Republicans added another response of sorts. This one from their apparent new spokesman in their opposition to doing anything about gun violence and safety in the wake of the school shooting on 12-14.
Enter Ted Nugent. He was invited to attend the SOTU by another element of the fringe, Republican Rep. Steve Stockman, who has himself threatened to impeach President Obama for the crazy idea that we should really do something to change gun laws in order to prevent more mass murders in the future and to protect our children. (Yesterday I posted one of Nugent's colorful quotes on what he would like to do to not only to President Obama, but Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein. He also stated if President Obama were to be reelected, he would either be in jail or dead by then. Of course, he's neither, but regardless, Stockman thought it would be a good idea to bring him to the SOTU address.)
Nugent, who threatened the President's life, earning him a visit from the Secret Service, will offer his own "response" after his appearance in the chamber. What he refers to as "taking on the media orgy." The reason he will be there, according to him, is this:
“We know that the president will have the state of the union stacked and jammed with props, children, and victims of violent crime,” Nugent told Broomhead. “And my friends wanted me to attend to counter that the way that I do: with facts, statistics and common sense and logic and a celebration of self-evident truths.”
Those "props" as Nugent refers to them are former Congresswoman and shooting victim Gabby Giffords, the mother of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, the sister of a murder/shooting victim, the father of one of the Sandy Hook victims, and the brother of one of the teachers who was killed there.
Because Nugent claims he wants to "counter that the way that I do," we can only hope he won't be telling any of those "props" to do what he's suggested to the others above, which in his mind is "common sense." Merely by being there, Nugent and the Republicans are giving a slap in the face to all those victims, and since no one in the party has come forward to denounce Nugent's presence there, the GOP owns him.
So those are the three representatives from the Republican Party. Two who are lawmakers, and a third who invites a gun nut famous for threatening the lives of others. I guess this is the new "messaging" the GOP has been talking about lately.
It sends a message all right: Not only have they not changed since the last election, they've gone beyond the party of stupid.
There have been well over 1,000 shootings in the month since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary that took the lives of 20 children and six teachers and administrators.
President Obama included remarks about the Newtown shootings and the need to do something about gun violence in his second inaugural speech last week, and his proposals to that end a few days before.
Last night, a 15 year old girl who performed at President Obama's inauguration became another victim of gun violence. Hadiya Pendleton was shot to death in a park just blocks from her high school in Chicago.
Not that enforcement will get any easier if Republicans have anything to do with it. Consider this blatant, and egregious statement from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in his attempt to twist logic to not only take a stand for the NRA, but to make assurances that the threat to public safety from gun violence will only get worse, with his assistance.
Graham stated that he would oppose any gun violence measures because of the increased need for weapons with high capacity magazines in order for people to defend themselves. Why the increased need for self defense? Because of current gun law enforcement problems and slow police response times due to budget cuts. And who is making those budget cut decisions? Why that would be Lindsey Graham, and he all but promised more in the future:
[...I can tell people throughout this land, because of the fiscal state of affairs we have, there will be less [SIC] police officers, not more, over the next decade. Response time are gonna be less, not more.
To make matters worse, Graham assured everyone at the hearing that he was being completely reasonable in saying this.
Feel safer yet?
Yes. Republicans showed this morning that they have tossed sanity completely out the window and are willing to stand alongside the likes of the unhinged NRA man Wayne LaPierre. As expected, LaPierre stood fast in saying that enacting new laws wouldn't change a thing, that guns aren't the problem, and that a person's right to own an assault rifle or any other weapon is more important than the general public's rights to be safe. Never mind that those rights aren't being infringed in any way, and no one is proposing to do so. Facts have no place in his arguments.
And of course, the only "logical" answer to the current school massacre problem, as always, is just more and more guns! And, not that anyone asked, but LaPierre just happens to have the perfect solution: His NRA backed proposal to put armed guards in every school in the country, and of course, sell more guns in the process.
At this point, I would actually like to thank Lindsey Graham, his Republican colleagues, and the likes of LaPierre, for what they demonstrated today at the hearing.
Because if there was ever a time when we needed to enact more strict gun laws and ban certain weapons that have no good or logical reasons to be on the street, it's now, and if there was anyone who didn't get that before today, they did today.
It's no longer just an issue of keeping guns out of the hands of those who are mentally unstable, or those who just don't give a thought to the safety of others. It's a question of the state of mind of Republican lawmakers who are telling us that the lives of our children, and every one of us mean nothing to them. Nothing. It's that one of their own, Gabby Giffords, life has been forever changed doesn't even seem to phase them. That no common sense safety measure or change to a law, no matter how small, can be made. Not even the horror stories from Newtown can break through what has become a barrier of utter crazy: the GOP.
Today any appearance of logic went out the window on that side of the aisle, and made it that much more clear that we need to stand with the adults that were in that hearing room today. We have to fight back, not with guns and violence, but with common sense. The gun manufacturers and the lawmakers that do their bidding have no interest in protecting our children, or anyone else. The only thing that motivates them is the sale of yet another gun.